Chechen leader confirms deadly helicopter crash

A Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter. Image copyright Huw Evans picture agency
Image caption A military version of the Mi-8 helicopter - reportedly the type of aircraft that crashed in Chechnya

Several people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya.

Interfax news agency reports that Chechen leader Ramzan Kaydrov has confirmed the crash and that he said weather conditions in the area had been "difficult".

It is not yet clear how many people have died, though local reports put the figure at between five and eight.

Mr Kaydrov said the helicopter belonged to the Russian border guard service.

According to the Meduza news website, the vehicle was an Mi-8 helicopter.

"The accident happened in a narrow gorge where mountain ridges are within a short distance one from another," Mr Kadyrov said.

The Chechen leader also said measures would be taken to rescue survivors, if there are any.

Chechnya has been the scene of an Islamist insurgency against the Russian state, although the violence has died down in recent years.

Mr Kadyrov is a key Putin ally who has been placed under sanctions by the US for alleged human rights abuses - sanctions dubbed "illegal" and "unfriendly" by the Kremlin.

In 2016, an Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Siberia, killing at least 19 people.

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