Helicopter and bodies found in China quake zone

A military helicopter that crashed in southwest China 11 days ago during earthquake rescue operations was found on Tuesday, along with the bodies of the passengers, state press said.

The helicopter was found just north of the town of Yingxiu in mountainous Sichuan province, with searchers locating the remains of the missing crew and passengers, China News Service reported.

The Mi-171 transport helicopter, manned by five crew, went missing on May 31 while evacuating 14 people who had been injured in the earthquake which devastated large areas of Sichuan.

The report did not say if the bodies of all 19 people had been recovered.

China Central Television said the helicopter was found at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,200 feet) above sea level.

Searchers have been plagued by fog and overcast weather in the search for the missing chopper whose camouflage paint also made it difficult to locate in the rugged, forested mountain area, earlier reports said.

After the helicopter went missing, thousands of soldiers were mobilised in a ground search for the aircraft.