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MARINE HELO DOWN; 31 DEAD

This is awful, just awful. Let's hope these numbers are off.A U.S. Marine helicopter transporting troops crashed Wednesday in the desert of western Iraq, killing 31 people, American military officials said. It was the deadliest crash of a U.S. military helicopter in Iraq.970417-N-3149V-005_screen.jpgA Pentagon source said the helicopter was a CH-53 Sea Stallion, which is normally configured to carry 37 passengers, but can take up to 55. There was no immediate word on how many people were on board or what caused the crash.The military officials did not specify the nationalities of those on board or say how many were soldiers.It was the biggest loss of life in a helicopter crash in Iraq -- and could be the deadliest single incident for American forces since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. THERE'S MORE: Back in August, a Sea Stallion crashed in Okinawa; thankfully, no one was killed. But that same month, two Marines died when their CH-53 copter went down over Iraq's Al-Anbar province. In 2002, two more lost their lives when the newer, Super Stallion version of the aircraft broke down in Afghanistan.

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