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Ten killed in Malaysian military helicopter crash

Ten Malaysian military personnel lost their lives in a tragic accident on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024. Two helicopters belonging to the Royal Malaysian Navy collided mid-air during a training session at the Lumut naval base, approximately 160 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur.

Deadly Collision During Flypast Rehearsal

The incident occurred as the helicopters were participating in a flypast rehearsal in preparation for the upcoming Naval Day celebrations in May. Online footage captured the moment of impact, showing several helicopters flying in close formation before one clipped the tail rotor of another. Both aircraft immediately spun out of control and crashed to the ground.

Swift Response and Confirmation of Casualties

Emergency personnel rushed to the scene, but sadly, all ten crew members onboard the helicopters were pronounced dead by medical officers. Suhaimy Mohamad Suhail, a senior operations commander with the Malaysian fire and rescue department, confirmed the fatalities.

Identification of the Aircraft and Crash Sites

The two helicopters involved in the accident were identified as a Eurocopter AS555SN Fennec and an AgustaWestland AW139. Images from the scene depicted the Eurocopter model severely damaged at the naval base stadium track, surrounded by rescue personnel and debris. The AgustaWestland helicopter crashed in a separate location, within the naval base’s swimming pool area.

Outpouring of Condolences and Investigation Launched

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, calling it a “heart-wrenching and soul-wrenching tragedy” that would deeply affect the nation. He confirmed the initiation of an immediate investigation by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Malaysian Navy to determine the cause of the collision.

Malaysia’s King, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, also offered his condolences, stating that he and Queen Zarith were deeply saddened by the loss of “national heroes” in this unfortunate event.

History of Helicopter Accidents in Malaysia

This incident serves as a grim reminder of the inherent risks associated with helicopter operations. While uncommon, helicopter crashes have unfortunately occurred in Malaysia before. Just last month, all four individuals aboard a Malaysian coast guard helicopter were rescued after a crash in the Strait of Malacca. In 2020, two people died when a pair of helicopters from the same pilot school collided mid-air during training. Malaysia also witnessed a similar tragedy in 2016 when a deputy minister perished in a Eurocopter AS350 crash within the state of Sarawak.

The Royal Malaysian Navy and relevant authorities are currently conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragic accident. The findings will be crucial in ensuring the safety of future training exercises and minimizing the risk of similar incidents in the years to come.


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