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Helicopter Crash Survivors Flown to Irkutsk Hospital

The four survivors of a deadly helicopter crash in the republic of Sakha have been evacuated from the crash site in serious but stable condition, regional authorities said Thursday.

The Mi-8 helicopter crashed Tuesday during a routine flight 40-45 kilometers away from the airfield, killing 24 of the helicopter's 28 passengers.

On Wednesday evening rescuers picked up three of the survivors from the crash site and transported them to a local hospital in Ust Kuiga. The fourth survivor, a 17-year-old boy who suffered a fractured spine, was treated by medics at the crash site.

He was airlifted by helicopter Thursday morning, Itar-Tass reported.

All four survivors were later taken to an emergency ward in Yakutsk by plane.

An Emergency Situations Ministry official said two of the survivors had been admitted to an emergency ward in serious condition with multiple injuries requiring surgery. The other two survivors are being treated for burns, the official said.

The regional Health Ministry said all four survivors had hypothermia, but that their condition was stable.

Preliminary reports indicate that the accident could have been caused by a technical fault, difficult weather conditions or pilot error, investigators said.

The technicians who inspected the helicopter before its takeoff have been questions and fuel samples have also been taken for analysis.

Yegor Borisov, head of the republic of Sakha (formerly Yakutia), has declared Friday a day of mourning for the victims of the tragedy.

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