Italy finds 7 bodies at a scorched helicopter crash site

ROME -- Authorities said Saturday that seven bodies were found by Italian rescuers.

Italy finds 7 bodies at a scorched helicopter crash site

ROME -- Authorities said Saturday that seven bodies were found by Italian rescuers. They included four Turks and two Lebanese who were killed when their helicopter crashed into a mountainous, heavily forested area in northern Italy.

Col. Alfonso Cipriano is the head of an air force rescue coordination team that led the search. He said rescuers were tipped to the crash site by a mountain runner who reported seeing what he believed was part of the mangled helicopter during an excursion up Mount Cusna Saturday morning.

Cipriano said that the air crews confirmed the location and ground crews first located five bodies and then two more. The site was located in a difficult-to-reach valley. Chopper remains were concealed from air rescuers by the dense tree cover. However, some branches were cut and burned.

Thursday morning, the helicopter vanished from radar screens as it flew above Modena in Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. It carried seven people, including four Turkish citizens and two Lebanese, on its flight from Lucca to Treviso, to visit a tissue-paper production facility.

Turkish industrial group Eczacibasi claimed that the Turks aboard were working for them.

Eczacibasi released a statement expressing "great sorrow and sadness" and confirming that the director of factories, director for hygienic paper at Yalova's province factory, director for investment projects, and production director at Manisa's province factory had all died in the accident. They also expressed their condolences.

About 10 km (six miles), was the crash site from where rescuers began their search based on last cellular pings received from passengers' phones. Cipriano stated that it could have taken several hours or even days to find the crash site if it wasn't for the runners' tip. The terrain was difficult and lush.

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