By Associated Press Writer
updated 7/19/2008 8:26:38 PM ET 2008-07-20T00:26:38

The founder of the Unification Church, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, is recovering from injuries he suffered when a helicopter taking him to a church-linked hospital crashed into a mountain in poor visibility, officials said.

Moon, aged 88, was one of 16 people on board the helicopter when it crashed Saturday and burst into flames in Gapyeong, about 37 miles northeast of Seoul, the South Korean transport ministry said in a statement.

All the occupants were taken to Cheongshim Hospital. They included Moon's wife and other members of his family. None were seriously hurt.

Moon was slightly hurt and had X-rays, a hospital official said. Nine people suffered only minor bruises.

No details of his injury were given, but the church said in a brief statement on its Web site that Moon and the others were "safe."

The ministry said the accident happened as the helicopter made an emergency landing due to bad visibility during heavy rain. The exact cause of the crash was still under investigation, police said.

Church official Kim Dae-yeol said Gapyeong area has several church-affiliated facilities including a museum and schools.

Moon founded the Seoul-based Unification Church in the 1950s. It owns hundreds of companies around the world, including the United Press International news agency and the Washington Times newspaper.

The church's doctrine is a mixture of Christian, Confucian and traditional Korean values, and Moon's followers believe he came into the world to complete the work of Jesus Christ.

In 2004, Moon was the center of a coronation ceremony in Washington, D.C., at which he declared himself the Messiah. He also became widely known for performing mass weddings of followers.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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