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US Helicopter Crashes Near North Korea Border

A US military helicopter taking part in a joint South Korea-US drill has crashed near the North Korean border.

The CH-53 US Marine helicopter was carrying 21 personnel on board but officials said there were no casualties.

In a statement the US Forces in Korea said the Super Stallion helicopter had "executed a hard landing" while on a routine flight operation in Cheolwon county, which is on the border with North Korea.

The precise cause of the accident was not immediately known, the statement said, adding that a "comprehensive investigation" had been ordered.

All five crew members and 16 other service personnel - who belonged to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed in Japan - were taken to a US military hospital in Seoul.

Fifteen were later released, while six remained in hospital in a "stable condition".

Pictures from the site taken by the Yonhap news agency showed firefighters using foam to douse the burned wreckage of the helicopter, which was taking part in an annual South Korea-US exercise called "Foal Eagle".

The Korean peninsula is currently at a state of heightened military tensions, partly due to North Korea's anger over the joint exercises, which it sees as an invasion rehearsal.

Incensed by fresh UN sections following its third nuclear test in February, Pyongyang has spent weeks issuing blistering threats of missile strikes and nuclear war against the South, Japan and the US.

It has declared itself to be in a "state of war" with the South, called the US an "enemy of the state" and threatened the Japanese capital would be "consumed in nuclear flames".

On Sunday, the US and China said they were committed to finding a peaceful means of ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry said a further missile test would be a "huge mistake" and called on China to halt the escalating tensions.

There are 28,500 US military personnel permanently stationed in South Korea.