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Copter crash in Chile forest fire region kills 14

FOURTEEN people, including a dozen firefighters, were killed yesterday when their helicopter crashed in a region of south-central Chile that is grappling with a rash of forest fires, regional authorities said.

The helicopter, which belongs to forestry company Celco, a unit of conglomerate Copec <COP.SN>, crashed in the Maule region around 185 miles (300 kilometres) south of the capital, Santiago.

"They are 12 firefighters, aged around 18 to 30, as well as the pilot and his copilot," Angelica Saez, governor of the province of Cauquenes, told local television. "They belong to the company Celco Constitucion."

Chile's National Forestry Corp. (CONAF) said the team had been heading to put out a fire at a eucalyptus plantation when the helicopter crashed.

A regional national emergency official said there was a dense mist in the area and a light rain at the time of the crash.

Chile has been dealing with a series of forest fires mainly in southern wooded areas where fires are sparked each summer amid dry, hot conditions.


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