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HELICOPTER CRASH KILLS 9 AFTER RELIEF EFFORT

An Australian navy helicopter crashed Saturday on the earthquake-devastated Indonesian island of Nias, the defense ministry said, and media reported that nine people were killed and two were rescued.

The Sea King helicopter crashed near the town of Gunung Sitoli, off the west coast of Sumatra, in the afternoon, a defense statement said.

The helicopter was from an Australian navy transport ship that arrived Saturday from Singapore after a three-month relief mission in Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh.

Up to 11 people, including the helicopter's crew of three, were on board, the statement said, without giving further details.

The Australian Associated Press -- which had a journalist on the transport ship, the HMAS Kanimbla -- quoted the captain as saying nine people were killed.

Commander George McGuire was quoted as saying two survivors were airlifted to the Kanimbla for emergency surgery.

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