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Military Lowers Copter Crash Death Toll by 1, to 18

A top military official on Tuesday evening revised the death toll in last month's Mi-171 helicopter crash from 19 to 18.

Five crew members and 12 quake victims were found dead in the mountains near the quake epicenter town, Yingxiu. One person is still missing, said Fu Guozhu, deputy director of the Political Department of the Sichuan Provincial Military Region of the People's Liberation Army.

The missing person, formerly reported as having been on board, did not take the helicopter, Fu said.

Based on the severity of damage and the surrounding terrain, the helicopter might have hit a mountain before it crashed, according to an official with the relief headquarters of the Chengdu Military Area Command.

The Mi-171 military transport helicopter crashed at 2:56 PM on May 31 while transferring 13 injured residents from the epicenter of the May 12 quake in the southwest Sichuan Province.

The helicopter, affiliated with the quake-relief troops of the Chengdu Military Area Command, was reported to have encountered strong turbulence and fog.

(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2008)

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