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RIA Novosti

GROZNY, March 11 (RIA Novosti) - A Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Chechnya yesterday, killing 15 people. One more person was injured as a result. Talking to RIA Novosti, a well-informed investigation-group source noted that technical problems were perceived as the main cause of the crash.

Investigators found chopper fragments, including a rotor with high-voltage wires coiled around it, at the crash site. These fragments show that the Mi-8's rotor hit a power-transmission line. The chopper then caught fire and ploughed into the ground, the agency's interlocutor noted.

Eyewitness reports also confirm this circumstance.

Several people, including local residents and Chechen law-enforcement officers, have told investigators that the helicopter was flying at very low altitude. The chopper's rotor got entangled in a power-transmission line, causing the Mi-8 to fall, the source noted.

Investigators still should find out why that helicopter was flying at treetop level. Quite possibly, the Mi-8 developed a malfunction even before hitting the power-transmission line.

Black boxes were found at the crash site, the source noted.

In his words, the helicopter may have been hit by something. Other possible causes include pilot error, etc.

Talking to RIA Novosti, officials at the military prosecutor's office of the North Caucasian Joint Group of Forces noted that a criminal case had been opened in line with the Criminal Code's article concerning flight-regulation violations and violations of pre-flight preparations.

Sixteen people, three crewmembers included, were staying aboard at the time of the crash.

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