US helicopter crashes in Iraq; 2 unaccounted for

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Sunday, April 2, 2006

The flag of Iraq
An Apache helicopter, similar to that involved in yesterday's crash

The two crew-members of a US Army Apache helicopter which went down near Youssifiyah, Iraq are said by U.S. officials to be presumed dead after several failed searches for their bodies in the surrounding area.

A statement by army officials said yesterday that early reports suggested that the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter crashed at around 5:30pm local time on Saturday, near the town of Youssifiyah, located approximately 12 miles southwest of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The statement went on to say that the aircraft had been on "combat air patrol" at the time of the incident.

The statement, which was vague in its details, did not specify a definite crash site. Regarding current efforts to find the wreckage (and presumably the bodies), it was merely stated that "Two pilots are presumed dead, but recovery efforts continue following the crash." The identities of the two victims are known; they are being withheld until their families are notified.

No other details regarding the crash were released, and the cause of the crash is unknown at the present time, but Youssifiyah has been the site of insurgency in the past. As of 3 p.m. GMT today, the US military have announced that they believe the aircraft was shot down.