Five members of Venezuela's PNB national police force died Thursday when the helicopter they were using to pursue a group of kidnappers in a rural part of Caracas crashed, PNB director Luis Karabi said.

The helicopter crashed in an uninhabited area near the Antimano neighborhood in the northeastern part of the capital in conditions of very low visibility due to a thick fog that covered the city at dawn.

Karabi said in a telephone call to state television that the aircraft had joined the pursuit of a group of kidnappers who shortly before had exchanged gunfire with PNB officers, a shootout in which one of the alleged criminals died and during which law enforcement personnel were able to rescue two people.

According to crash witnesses, the chopper's blades hit high tension wires and it crashed enveloped in flames. EFE