Venezuelan helicopter crashes at military base

Other News Materials 14 June 2008 05:52 (UTC +04:00)

A Venezuelan army helicopter crashed Friday at a Caracas military base, injuring two crew members but leaving passengers - including the commander of the National Guard - unharmed, a military official said.

The incident occurred when the Russian-made MI-17 helicopter was landing near a heliport inside Fort Tiuna, the military headquarters in Caracas, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman told The AP . She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to give her name.

The pilot and co-pilot were injured, but other high-ranking officials on board were unhurt, including National Guard commander Gen. Fredys Alonzo, the spokeswoman said.

She said the helicopter experienced a problem while landing but that the exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined. It was unclear from what height the helicopter fell.

Images aired on the Venezuelan television channel Globovision showed that the helicopter's undercarriage was smashed in by the force of the accident.

Civilian firefighters who were called to the site found the fuel tank had ruptured and applied foam to prevent it from catching fire, fire chief Delio Martinez said.

Venezuela obtained the aircraft two years ago as part of a purchase of various helicopters from Russia.