UN says one person died in helicopter accident in Darfur

A humanitarian aid worker was killed when a U.N. helicopter crashed while evacuating NGO personnel from a conflict area in the west Sudan region of Darfur, the United Nations and the worker's organization have announced. The fighting is continuing and the U.N. has evacuated more than 100 humanitarian workers, U.N. spokeswoman Radhia Achouri said Thursday.

Hadja Hamid, a nutritionist, was killed "when a UN emergency evacuation helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff" on Wednesday, said the Sudan director of GOAL Ireland, Alan Glasgow, in a statement relayed to the media by the U.N. office in Khartoum.

"Hadja Hamid was in her mid-20s and had been working for GOAL for the last 6 months on the aid agency's supplementary feeding program," said Glasgow, adding that GOAL runs health and food programs that support about 450,000 people in Darfur.

Four more of the 16 people on board the helicopter suffered minor injuries, U.N. spokeswoman Dawn Blalock told The Associated Press. Blalock said the cause of the crash was being investigated but there appeared to have been "a technical failure." The accident happened in the village of Daya in the Jebel Marra region of North Darfur. On Wednesday the United Nations said one person was missing and several injured after the helicopter made "a hard landing."

With a crew of three, the helicopter was evacuating 13 employees of non-governmental organizations from the village because fighting had broken out nearby.

The violence began Monday when the rebel Sudan Liberation Army attacked the nearby garrison town of Golo.

"Fighting is still continuing with heavy weapons" in Golo, spokeswoman Achouri said Thursday. The U.N. evacuated 60 NGO personnel from Golo and 48 from Daya, including the survivors of the helicopter crash, on Wednesday.

The United States has condemned the SLA attack, which comes as the rebels and the government are trying to negotiate peace in talks in Abuja, Nigeria, reports the AP. I.L.

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