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Pakistan Mourns 7 Killed in Helicopter Crash

  • VOA News

Pakistani army soldiers carry coffins, wrapped in national flags and carrying bodies of helicopter crash victims, at the Nur Khan air base in Islamabad, May 9, 2015.

Pakistani army soldiers carry coffins, wrapped in national flags and carrying bodies of helicopter crash victims, at the Nur Khan air base in Islamabad, May 9, 2015.

Saturday is a national day of mourning in Pakistan, following the helicopter crash Friday that killed seven people, including the ambassadors to Pakistan from the Philippines and Norway, and the wives of the ambassadors of Malaysia and Indonesia. Three crew members were also killed in the crash.

Authorities say the bodies are now at Rawalpindi's Nur Khan Airbase.

Officials say the helicopter, with at least 17 people onboard, crash landed Friday in Naltar valley in northern Pakistan.

Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwal said on Twitter that the ambassadors of Poland and the Netherlands were among the survivors.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft, saying it was targeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, Defense Minister Khawaj Asif said the crash occurred "purely due to technical fault and not because of any terrorist action."

Prime Minister Sharif's office had said he was on a plane en route to the Gilgit area at the time of the crash, but returned to Islamabad after receiving news of the incident.

In a statement, the prime minister expressed his "deep grief and sorrow over the tragic incident." He extended his "heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives in this incident."

A Foreign Ministry statement says that heads of diplomatic missions of more than 30 countries and their family members as well as some Pakistan dignitaries were being flown to the main town of Gilgit by a C-130. From there, they were being taken to Naltar in four helicopters for a three-day excursion trip.

The ministry says such excursion trips are regularly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Diplomatic Corps.​

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