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    SAAF A109 Agusta Helicopter Crashes, Three Lost
    Posted on Thursday, May 14 @ 13:52:05 EDT by admin

    General Aviation News A SAAF Agusta A109 has crashed tragically causing the loss of three crew members.

    The following was the intial SAPA report which is then followed by the latest update by the Government Communication and Information System:

    Durban - Three Air Force members were killed when their Agusta A109 helicopter crashed into a dam in the upper Tugela area on Tuesday, the defence ministry said.

    The accident happened during a training flight to Dragons Peak Park in KwaZulu-Natal in the morning. The names of the dead would be released once their next of kin had been informed.

    "A board of enquiry has been convened to investigate the cause of the accident," the ministry said in a statement.

    "The Ministry, Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Godfrey Ngwenya, extend their deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased."

    Police captain Charmaine Struwig said the helicopter was on its way to Dragon's Peak at 11:00 when it plunged into Woodstock Dam and sank.

    "Police divers and SA National Defence Force divers have been called in to assist in the recovery of the wreckage and the bodies of the occupants who are at this stage suspected to have drowned," she said.

    The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

    - SAPA

    Update by Government Communication and Information System:

    KwaZulu-Natal - The remains of one of the three South African Air Force (SAAF) pilots, who died in a fatal helicopter crash in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday, has been retrieved.

    The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Service search team retrieved the remains on Wednesday.

    According to the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, the crash, involving the Agusta A109 helicopter, was en route to Dragon's Peak Park, flying past the upper Tugela River when it plunged into the Woodstock Dam and sank.

    Department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi, told BuaNews the name of the SAAF member will be announced as soon as he is identified.

    "A similar procedure will be followed regarding the release of the names of the members whose remains are yet to be retrieved," he said, adding that the search for the other bodies was continuing.

    The cause of the accident is still unknown, Mr Mkhwanazi said, adding that the department has since convened a Board of Enquiry to investigate the cause of the accident.

    The Agusta A109 helicopter is one the helicopters acquired as part of the department's Strategic Arms Procurement Package approved by Cabinet in 2001.

    In 2007, the department received seven of the 30 ordered Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopters.



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