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Peru: Helicopter crash kills 7, including Americans

GlobalPost's correspondent says locals describe seeing victims jump from the distressed chopper before it hit the ground.

Peruvian amazon 2013 01 08Enlarge
A helicopter went down Monday in the Peruvian Amazon. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Seven people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the Amazon jungle in Peru.

At least two of the victims were American, CNN reported.

According to Reuters, as many as five of the seven people on board were from the US.

The crash happened on Monday afternoon, CNN said, shortly after the helicopter took off from Pucallpa airport in central Peru.

The aircraft exploded after it hit the ground, reportedly sending up a column of smoke that could be seen from the airport control tower.

Emergency crews are working to retrieve the bodies. The bodies of two Americans and one Peruvian had been recovered by early Tuesday morning, a local court official told CNN.

"Local people on the ground said they saw three people jump from the distressed chopper as it spun at around 1,000 feet in a vain attempt to save their lives before the doomed helicopter impacted on the ground," says GlobalPost's correspondent in Peru, Simeon Tegel.

Reuters cited local media reports as saying that the pasengers worked for Canadian-based oil company Petrominerales Ltd.

Helicopter crashes in the Peruvian Amazon and Andes are not uncommon, thanks to the rugged terrain, according to Tegel. The most recent accident happened on Dec. 17 when an Antonov AN26 cargo plane, contracted to an energy consortium drilling in the Amazon, crashed in the mountains near Lima as it headed toward the jungle.

In some cases in recent years, in remote pockets of cloudforest, Shining Path rebels also have downed military choppers using anti-aircraft missiles and small arms fire, Tegel adds. But Monday’s crash appears to be unconnected to the guerrilla group, he said.

According to Agence France-Presse, the cause of the crash is still being investigated.

Follow Simeon Tegel @SimeonTegel, who contributed reporting from Peru.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/peru/130108/peru-helicopter-crash-kills-7-including-americans