BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - A rescue helicopter crashed in central Slovakia on Wednesday night, killing three rescuers and a patient aboard, a spokeswoman for the private rescue service Air Transport Europe said.

Rescuers found the helicopter and four bodies on Thursday morning in Strelniky, a mountainous area near Banska Bystrica, around 240 kilometres east of the capital, Bratislava.

Witnesses said the helicopter crashed about 10 minutes into its flight. It was carrying a 38-year old man who was staying at a local cabin and injured his leg during a hike, www.tvnoviny.sk reported.

The Bell 429 helicopter was new and the 50-year old pilot had more than 4,600 hours of flight time, www.cas.sk said.

The spokeswoman could not give any details on the cause of the crash.

(Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova, editing by Larry King)