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World : Pupils Escape Death as Helicopter Crashes on Madrid School Ground

<i> From Times wire services </i>

Hundreds of students escaped disaster when an army helicopter crashed in the courtyard of their Madrid school today, narrowly missing apartment buildings and a packed supermarket, witnesses said.

The three crew members were killed and Madrid Mayor Juan Barranco said they had avoided a major disaster by steering the craft away from several 14-story buildings to the area’s only empty space. “There could have been hundreds of casualties,” he said as firemen put out the blazing wreckage in the heavily populated suburb of Aluche. There were no civilian casualties.

The crew, two captains and a lieutenant, was on a training exercise, practicing rescues from high-rise buildings, military sources said.

Witnesses said that up to 2,000 students were in the classrooms and some were in the courtyard awaiting lunch when the Super Puma helicopter crashed and burst into flames, showering debris over more than 100 yards.

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