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UPDATE 1-U.S. safety agency sends team to investigate Tesla crash

(Adds background on previous incidents, Tesla no comment)

WASHINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Wednesday that it was sending a team to investigate the crash of a Tesla Inc vehicle last week in Utah that the driver said occurred while the car was in autopilot mode.

It is the third Tesla crash that may be linked to the semi-autonomous Autopilot system being investigated by the government agency since January.

"The agency has launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordan, Utah, crash," the agency said on Wednesday. "NHTSA will take appropriate action based on its review."

Tesla did not immediately comment.

The driver of a Tesla Model S sedan was traveling at 60 miles (97 km) per hour when it smashed into a fire truck stopped at a red light about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City on Friday night, according to police. The driver said she was using autopilot at the time of the crash and suffered a broken ankle.

NHTSA is also investigating a fatal crash in March that involved a Tesla Model X using Autopilot. It is also probing the January crash of a Tesla vehicle apparently traveling in Autopilot that struck a fire truck. Both incidents were in California.

Last week, NHTSA also said it would probe a May 8 Tesla accident in Florida that killed two teenagers and injured another. Autopilot was not thought to play a part.

NHTSA can order a recall if it finds a defect poses an unreasonable risk to safety.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a separate government agency that looks into accidents and makes safety recommendations, has said it is not investigating the Utah crash.

The NTSB is investigating the other three Tesla incidents being looked at by NHTSA, as well as a August 2017 Tesla battery fire in California, where an owner ran the vehicle into his garage.

Swiss prosecutors said this week that they were looking into the fatal crash of a Tesla in southern Switzerland. (Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Susan Thomas and Rosalba O'Brien)