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Helicopter crash kills Hindu pilgrims in Indian Kashmir

A helicopter flying pilgrims from a mountain temple dedicated to a Hindu goddess has crashed, killing seven people in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.

The helicopter caught fire as it hit the ground near its landing site in Katra town, police officer Sameer Kotwal said.

Rescuers recovered the bodies of the six pilgrims and the pilot, Mr Kotwal said. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

The helicopter belonged to a company that operates flights to Vaishno Devi temple, which is in a cave in the Himalayas at a height of 5,300ft (1,600 metres). The helicopter trip is popular with pilgrims who find it difficult to trek to the temple.

The area is 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Jammu, the winter capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state.

Every year, more than 10 million people visit the temple, which is dedicated to goddess Mahalakshmi.

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