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Britons in fatal helicopter crash

Two Britons were among three people killed in a helicopter crash in northern Russia, according to reports.

The private Eurocopter crashed in the Murmansk region on the Kola Peninsula, according to Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.

The ministry said the helicopter banked on one side and crashed while attempting to take off. News reports in Russia quoted local officials as saying a Russian and two British tourists died in the crash.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of the deaths of two British nationals in Russia. We are in touch with the local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance."

Reports said the Britons were tourists and on a fishing trip, and that their Russian guide was the other victim.

A spokesman for Eurocopter said the helicopter was an EC-120. "We are awaiting more information from Russia and are ready to give any support that is needed," he said.

The Telegraph reported that the anglers were believed to be in their late 60s and were killed in the crash at a tourist camp on the Rynda river about 90 miles east of Murmansk, in an area known for fly-fishing tours for Atlantic salmon.

The newspaper said reports varied as to whether the helicopter was hit by a freak gust of wind as it tried to take off and fell on the three men, who were standing nearby after just arriving on it, or whether it tilted on its side while on the ground and hit them with its rotor blades.

A company called Atlantic Salmon Reserve runs an isolated fishing camp called Rynda Lodge on the river of the same name, the newspaper said. It was unavailable for comment.

The newspaper said Justin Maxwell Stuart, who runs UK-based travel agency Where Wise Men Fish, has organised tours to the camp in the past and quoted him as saying: "It's awful news. As far as I know this is the first such incident with a helicopter since fishing began on the Kola Peninsula."

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