Romania: 5 killed in helicopter crash

A private helicopter en-route to extinguish a fire in Turkey crashed in eastern Romania on Thursday, killing five Ukrainian citizens on board, officials said on Friday. There were no survivors.

The accident happened when the Kamov-26 aircraft crashed in Ostrov, a town in Tulcea County near the Moldovan border. “From witness statements, the aircraft made a strange noise and it crashed after an intense fire,” chief prosecutor Marius Iacob said, as quoted by state-run media. “The helicopter rotated several times in the air before the crash.”

The helicopter belongs to a Moldovan private company and was flying from Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, to Turkey where it was to extinguish a fire. The aircraft was flying behind a second helicopter which also belongs to the Moldovan company and landed near the crash site in an attempt to rescue the victims.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but Iacob said it was likely the result of a technical failure. “It was probably a technical failure, but we cannot exclude the possibility of pilot error,” he was quoted as saying. “On board the helicopter were highly qualified people in aviation and I can say that the main driver was very popular and was even asked in 2001 when Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine to fly in the air and make more shots from a helicopter.”

The victims, whose identities were not immediately released, were all aged between 24 and 54.

In July 2010, ten soldiers were killed when an Antonov An-2 aircraft belonging to the Cadet Air Force School crashed minutes after take-off from Tuzla airfield in southeastern Romania. The aircraft was carrying four crew members and nine parachutists. The three survivors were injured.

Friday, 27 April, 2012 at 18:26 (06:26 PM) UTC RSOE