- Associated Press - Sunday, April 8, 2012

EL CENTRO, Calif. (AP) — A British Chinook helicopter made an emergency landing during an exercise in the Arizona desert Saturday, U.S. and British military officials said. Seven people were sent to the hospital for evaluations, but all were reported uninjured.

The crew was practicing how to land the aircraft 15 miles northeast of Yuma on  Saturday afternoon when “something went wrong,” said Michelle Dee, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Facility El Centro in California.

The British Defense Ministry in London on Sunday confirmed it was an emergency landing during an exercise.

“The incident is under investigation. No personnel were injured,” a statement said.

Ms. Dee said earlier that the seven had suffered minor injuries and were sent to the hospital for evaluations as a precaution. The spokeswoman said she didn’t know how many people were aboard the aircraft or their nationalities. The Defense Ministry also did not provide those details.

The helicopter sustained damage, but Ms. Dee said she didn’t know the extent.

The officials didn’t provide any information on what prompted the emergency landing.

The Chinook was operating out of the naval base in California’s Imperial Valley. The facility hosts allied troops throughout the year for training over the California-Arizona border because the area’s craggy mountains and hot, dusty conditions are similar to Afghanistan’s harsh environment. The clear weather also allows for constant flying.

In February, seven Marines were killed when two helicopters crashed in midair during a routine exercise over the Yuma Training Range Complex.

The Yuma County sheriff’s office didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

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