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Three Die When U.S. Copter Crashes in Iraq

Three Die When U.S. Copter Crashes in Iraq

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TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) -- Three American soldiers were killed and a fourth injured when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed Friday during the rescue of an Iraqi child wounded in an explosion, U.S. military officials said.

On Friday evening, two Black Hawk helicopters were sent from the Tikrit area to help the child, who had suffered serious head injuries when unexploded ordnance went off outside Samarra, U.S. military officials in Tikrit said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Black Hawks landed near the Tigris River, and the child was put into the first helicopter, which took off without problems, the officials said.

But the second helicopter snagged a wire across the river as it took off, flipping the Black Hawk over and into the water.

One of the crew was able to swim to shore and was picked up by the first helicopter, which returned after seeing the accident. The other three in the Black Hawk could not be saved, one official said.

Both the child and the surviving crew member were taken to a U.S. military hospital for treatment. There was no immediate word on their conditions.

The names of the helicopter crew are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The three deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 145.

The Black Hawk is the Army's main troop transport helicopter. A crew of four usually flies the Black Hawk, which can carry up to 11 more soldiers.

The last Black Hawk to crash in Iraq was shot down by Iraqis near Karbala April 2, killing six.

A Black Hawk crashed in March in a remote, wooded area of Fort Drum, N.Y., during a training exercise, killing 11 of the 13 soldiers aboard.

In February, a Black Hawk crashed during night training in the Kuwaiti desert, killing all four crew members. The Kuwaiti military said sandstorms were reported in the area at the time the chopper went down.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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