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Australian Navy Helicopter Crashes During Indonesia Aid Mission

An Australian Navy helicopter delivering aid to survivors of the earthquake that struck near the Indonesian island of Nias Monday has crashed, with 11 people on board.

The helicopter crashed while trying to land on the remote west coast of Indonesia's Nias Island.

The Sea King helicopter had been ferrying aid as part of relief efforts to hard to reach areas of Nias, and was conducting a sortie of the quake devastated island when it crashed.

The Australian Department of Defense released a statement after Saturday's crash.

"A royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopter has crashed in the vicinity of Gunung Sitoli on Nias Island, off the west coast of Sumatra at approximately 7:30 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time this evening. The helicopter, from HMAS Kanimbla, was conducting a sortie in support of operation Sumatra Assist Phase Two, the Australian Defense Forces humanitarian contribution to the earthquake relief effort. Up to 11 people, including the aircraft's crew of three were on board."

The Australian Defense Department said the HMAS Kanimbla was steaming toward the vicinity of the crash site.

The Australian navy ship HMAS Kanimbla arrived off Nias Saturday, equipped with Sea King helicopters and medical personnel to deliver aid and treat the wounded from Monday's 8.7 magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds of people.

Helicopters have been crucial to the aid effort, as many roads have been left impassable by the massive earthquake.