Moment helicopter explodes into fireball during mountain rescue operation

This is the dramatic moment a helicopter exploded during a failed mountain rescue operation in a popular ski resort in Georgia

The helicopter tail was captured spinning before colliding into the side of a mountain and exploding into a fireball, as it tried in vain to reach stranded paragliders.

An emergency team consisting of medics and rescue workers were on board the aircraft as it attempted to help two people who were trapped on the cliff face.

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The crash occurred in Gudauri, a popular ski resort which becomes a hot spot for hang gliding and paragliding in the summer.

APA reported there were five people on board, two pilots and three rescue workers at the time of the crash.

People filming the crash can be heard gasping as it crashes into the mountainside, exploding in a cloud of black smoke and flames.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs said that is was one of their helicopters involved in the crash, which had lost control and "fell down" during the attempted rescue.

It added: "In addition to crew members of the helicopter, there were paramedics and medics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

"All the details about the incident are getting accurate and the Ministry of Internal Affairs will provide additional information to the public."

Helicopter crashes are not uncommon in Georgia, with the UK's Foreign Office warning travellers of the safety standards in the country.

In its travel advice section the Foreign Office says: "Be aware that, in some instances, safety standards may not be adequately observed."

"For example, several people were injured when a ski lift at Gudauri malfunctioned in March 2018 and a tourist helicopter crashed near Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) in spring 2019."

Another three people died in 2019 after a helicopter belonging to a ski-resort hotel crashed in the same region of Georgia.

Two of those were crew members while the third person was an employee of Rooms Hotel Kazbegi.

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