Bodies of nine soldiers retrieved from chopper crash site

Bodies of nine soldiers retrieved from chopper crash site

BANGKOK - Rescue workers have retrieved the bodies of nine soldiers, including a senior regional commander, after an army helicopter crashed in northern Thailand, authorities said Tuesday.

The bodies - some charred - were recovered late on Monday several hours after the chopper went down in the northern province of Phayao, killing everyone on board.

"We have taken the bodies to the provincial hospital," provincial governor Chuchad Keelapaeng told AFP.

"Many of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition," he said, adding that the deputy commander of the Third Army which covers northern Thailand was among the dead.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the helicopter was properly maintained at the time of the accident.

"It was an accident, no one wanted it to happen. We will investigate to find the real casue," the former army chief told reporters.

In July 2011 a series of helicopter crashes in the space of a week forced the Thai army to ground much of its fleet.

The choppers crashed in a province southwest of Bangkok, claiming 17 lives.

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