Five US soldiers were killed on Thursday in a helicopter crash in northeastern Italy, according to Italian News Agency ANSA.
The US army helicopter from Aviano military base, with 11 people aboard, was on a training mission which involved embarking and disembarking on the pebbly bank of the River Piave near the village of Santa Lucia di Piave.
According to Italian rescue services, the blades of the helicopter touched the ground during a tight turning maneuver, causing the aircraft to crash and burst into flames.
Four of the people aboard were killed instantly and a fifth died of his wounds in hospital. The other six people on board were all injured, two of them seriously, and are now in local hospitals.
Italian Prosecutors in Treviso cordoned off the crash site, which is at least a kilometer from the nearest houses, and have opened an inquiry to see whether anyone has responsibility for the disaster.
The US Air Force experts were also dispatched to the site to study the wreckage.
There are reportedly eight Blackhawk helicopters at Aviano, which is one of the biggest US military bases outside the US.
(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2007)