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Three diggers die in chopper crash -

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Three diggers die in chopper crash

Broadcast: 21/06/2010

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Three diggers died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan today in what has been a deadly fortnight
for Australian troops in Afghanistan.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: It's been a deadly fortnight for Australian troops in Afghanistan, with
three more deaths in a helicopter crash today. Seven other Australian soldiers were injured, two of
them seriously.

Today's sombre news follows the deaths of army engineers Jacob Moerland and Darren Smith who were
killed by a roadside bomb two weeks ago.

Today's incident involved soldiers from Australia's special operations task group, and they were in
a Coalition helicopter as part of an operation in Northern Kandahar.

The five deaths in just two weeks represent something like 30 per cent of Australia's total death
toll in Afghanistan over the nine or 10 years.

In a moment I'll be talking about conditions for the Australians there with retired major-general
Jim Molan, but first a brief excerpt from a particularly sombre press conference with Defence Force
chief, Air Marshal Angus Houston late today.

ANGUS HOUSTON, DEFENCE FORCE CHIEF: Early today a Coalition helicopter went down in Northern
Kandahar Province. 10 Australian commandoes from the Australian special operations task group were
amongst those on board. It is with a profound sense of loss and sadness that I inform you that as a
result of the incident three of our people have been killed. The remaining seven Australian
soldiers are being treated for their wounds. Two are very seriously wounded with one undergoing
surgery and one in intensive care at an ISAF medical facility. These soldiers, along with one of
the less seriously wounded, will be moved to the US military hospital in Bagram later today once
their condition stabilises.

JOHN FAULKNER, DEFENCE MINISTER: The 15 on board the helicopter, including 10 Australians, as
you've heard, were en route to an operation. Going out, as they do, day after day, putting their
lives at risk, putting their lives on the line for their country. This most dangerous theatre of
operations has, as you know, claimed five Australian lives in the past two weeks and it is with
very great sadness that we are here today to inform you of these latest casualties.