Peacekeeping helicopter crash kills four in Bosnia

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Friday, June 20, 2008

A German military helicopter of the model lost in the accident

A European Union peacekeeping helicopter crashed near Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina yesterday, killing the four servicemen on board. Two were German and two were Spanish.

The helicopter belonged to Spain and was deployed as part of the EUFOR peacekeeping mission, which Spain and Germany have 250 and 130 soldiers engaged in respectively. It was a German-built Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm BO-105. Spain's defence ministry named the deceased Spaniards as Lieutenant Santiago Hormigo Ledesma and Sergeant Joaquin Lopez Moreno. The Germans have not been named.

The cause of the accident is unknown, but the crash was witnessed by a second military helicopter in the area at the time. They reported seeing smoke from the helicopter but little else because the mountainous and forested terrain impeded their view. It is also known that the aircraft departed Sarajevo on a routine flight and crashed half an hour later after issueing a distress call. An investigation is ongoing.

The bodies were recovered today. The Spaniards were flown home on a C-130 military transport plane, after a short ceremony in which a Spanish general placed medals upon the coffins in the presence of the Spanish ambassador and EUFOR officials.

A EUFOR spokesman said the bodies of the Germans will probably be flown home on Monday.