13 soldiers die in helicopter crash in Turkey's southeast: army

Istanbul - 

Thirteen Turkish soldiers were killed Wednesday when a military helicopter crashed after hitting a high-voltage power line in the southeast of the country, the army said. 

The AS532 Cougar helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from a base in Sirnak province bordering Iraq, killing all 13 onboard, it said in a statement.

"Our hero comrades in the helicopter fell as martyrs," the army said.

Initial findings showed the crash was the result of an accident, the military statement said, adding that an investigation was underway.

Turkey's chief of staff, General Hulusi Akar, travelled to the region to carry out an inspection, Anadolu said. 

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, Defence Minister Fikri Isik and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu were also travelling to the region, it added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was briefed about the accident  after chairing the country's top National Security Council meeting in Ankara, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

In a separate statement, the local governor's office said rescue teams had been dispatched to the scene.

In March, seven people, including four Russians, were killed when a privately-owned helicopter crashed in Istanbul after hitting a television tower.

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