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17 killed in India rescue chopper crash

By CNN staff
updated 8:58 PM EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
Helicopter rescues pilgrims stranded because of heavy flooding near Kedarnath, Uttarakhand on June 24, 2013.
Helicopter rescues pilgrims stranded because of heavy flooding near Kedarnath, Uttarakhand on June 24, 2013.
Pedestrians run from water splashing over a sea wall in Mumbai on Monday, June 24. Authorities are scrambling to rescue thousands of people trapped after floods and landslides ravaged north India, leaving up to 1,000 feared dead. Pedestrians run from water splashing over a sea wall in Mumbai on Monday, June 24. Authorities are scrambling to rescue thousands of people trapped after floods and landslides ravaged north India, leaving up to 1,000 feared dead.
India lashed by monsoon rains
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Images: India lashed by monsoon rains Images: India lashed by monsoon rains
Thousands still missing in India
Rain expected in flooded parts of India

(CNN) -- The death toll in a helicopter crash that occurred amid rescue efforts in the wake of massive flooding in India rose to 17 Wednesday, police said in a news release.

Fifteen people remain missing, the news release said. "Their helicopter crashed when they were returning home after rescuing and safely sending home more than 2,000 yatris," or people on pilgrimage," it said.

The incident occurred Tuesday near Gaurikund in the state of Uttarakhand.

Scores of people have been killed and trapped in flooding and landslides in the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the crash "has come as a huge shock to me."

"The nation mourns with me the loss of our heroes whose selfless work has saved thousands of lives," he said in a statement. "Continuing their work would be the best homage to them."

READ: Up to 1,000 feared dead in India floods, landslides

READ: Indian floods a man-made disaster, say environmentalists

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