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Monday, January 10, 2005

TSUNAMI AFTERMATH: U.S. helicopter crashes at an under-pressure airport

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- A U.S. Seahawk helicopter on a relief operation crashed in a rice paddy near Banda Aceh's airport, injuring all 10 aboard and causing the military to briefly suspend flights today. Strong aftershocks and security concerns provided more challenges for aid workers two weeks after the disaster hit.

Capt. Kendall L. Card, the commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, which is stationed off the coast of Sumatra island, said over the ship's loudspeakers that six of the servicemen aboard the aircraft had been hurt seriously and four had minor injuries. The worst injury was a dislocated pelvis, he said.

Lt. Cmdr. John M. Daniels blamed the crash on a "possible mechanical failure" and said it was being investigated. Fifteen Seahawk helicopters from the Lincoln group have been flying up to nine hours a day on aid missions. Normally they fly a maximum of three to four hours a day.

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