Sixteen soldiers have been killed and five others are seriously injured after a military helicopter crashed during a parachute training mission close to the Vietnam capital Monday morning, media reports said.
The Russian-made MI-171 helicopter of the Vietnamese air force reportedly had 21 people on board, including three crew members, two trainers, and 16 parachute trainees. The chopper came down shortly after takeoff in a small village about 24 miles west of Hanoi.
"The accident happened in Thach That (an outlying district of Hanoi) when the MI-171 helicopter was conducting a parachuting exercise," Vo Van Tuan, Vietnam military deputy chief of staff, told The Wall Street Journal.
The five injured are reportedly being treated for serious burn injuries, while a doctor at the hospital said, according to Associated Press, or AP, that they had a very little chance of surviving.
Lt. Gen. Tuan was quoted as saying that they suspected the crash took place due to technical problems, ruling out sabotage of any kind, according to AP. He also reportedly added that the pilot prevented the chopper from crashing into a residential area, which could have brought more number of casualties.
Local residents and military officers reportedly helped in putting out the fire, while rescuers and police officials arrived at the scene to take the injured to a nearby hospital.
The investigation into the incident is still underway.