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Three hurt in US helicopter hard landing in Thailand

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta  watches a CH-46 Sea Knight taking off from the USS Peleliu on March 30, 2012
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (right) watches a CH-46 Sea Knight taking off from the USS Peleliu off the coast of San Diego, California on March 30, 2012. A US Marine helicopter on Wednesday made a "hard landing" during military exercises in northe

A US Marine helicopter on Wednesday made a "hard landing" during military exercises in northern Thailand, seriously injuring some of the passengers, the US Embassy in Bangkok said.

Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler said there were no fatalities in the incident, which involved a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter carrying US personnel taking part in the Cobra Gold joint military drills.

A source close to the exercises said two of the helicopter passengers were believed to need emergency surgery, while one sustained more minor injuries and a further three were unhurt.

Cobra Gold is the largest US multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific, bringing together thousands of troops from the US, Thailand and other countries for field training.

The annual drills are a key part of the US military relationship with Thailand, whose air bases and ports remain vital to the American military's logistical network in Asia.

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