Russian helicopter crash kills at least 19

MOSCOW Tue Jul 2, 2013 3:59am EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A helicopter packed with passengers crashed in Siberia on Tuesday, killing at least 19 of the 28 people aboard, Russia's civil aviation commission said.

The Mi-8 aircraft operated by Polar Airlines caught fire after crashing in the Sakha region with 25 passengers and three crew on board, the Interstate Aviation Committee said.

Citing a surviving crew member, the committee said on its website that 19 people were killed. State-run Itar-Tass later cited a regional government official as saying 23 people were killed and five survived, including a child.

Sakha, also known as Yakutia, is a vast region stretching north of the Arctic circle and helicopters are frequently used to transport people to remote areas.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alison Williams)

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