Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Red Cross relief helicopter goes missing in Pakistan

AFP , ISLAMABAD

This picture taken on Jan.18 shows an International Committee of the Red Cross helicopter, similar to the one that went missing in Pakistan yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

A helicopter chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for earthquake relief operations in Pakistan has gone missing with seven people on board, an ICRC spokesman said Sunday.

The MI-8 transport helicopter is operated by Turkmenistan Airlines, ICRC spokesman James Reynolds said.

The helicopter, which had completed its relief work in Pakistan, left the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Friday. It was scheduled to overfly Afghanistan en route to its home base in Turkmenistan, he said.

The helicopter was carrying seven crew members from Turkmenistan, Reynolds noted.

"We have no information as to the fate of the crew. We are in contact with the authorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan," Reynolds said.

He said the aircraft had made radio contact with air traffic controllers in Peshawar, reporting that it was about to leave Pakistani air space.

"Since then, we have had no contact," he said.

Intense search operations were launched on Saturday and were continuing yesterday, he said.

Pakistani security forces were conducting land and air search operations in the areas bordering Afghanistan, while US and NATO forces were combing mountainous areas in Afghanistan, US and NATO officials said in Kabul.

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