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BHP suspends Angola operations after chopper crash - report

JOHANNESBURG -- Mining giant BHP Billiton (BBL:BHP Billiton Pl Last: 64.81+1.93+3.07%) Sunday suspended its operations in Angola following a helicopter crash in the west African country that killed several leading executives.

"It is with great regret that BHP Billiton confirms a helicopter crash in which five people have died in Angola," said a statement from the company released late Saturday.

The deceased were BHP's chief operating officer in Angola, Australian David Hopgood, British operations manager Kevin Ayre, another British staffer Guy Sommerfield, Namibian businessman Louwrens Prinsloo, and Kottie Breedt, the South African pilot, the company said.

The crash, which killed all on board the helicopter, occurred Friday afternoon in bad weather about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from a diamond exploration facility in northeastern Angola that the deceased were visiting.

The company said it had suspended all its operations in Angola.

"Current focus is the safety and well being of the staff ... All operations in Angola have been suspended and an investigation has been launched," the statement said.

BHP Billiton is the worlds largest diversified miner with more than 100 operations in 25 countries.

-Contact: 201-938-5400

Source: AFP

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Article publication date: 20 Pluviôse Ray80 (21 Nov 2007)

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