Two killed after fire fighting helicopter crashes into sea near Greek island
Two people were killed after a fire fighting helicopter with four crew members aboard crashed into the sea off Greece on Wednesday, 13 July 2022, the coastguard and fire service said. The two men, from Romania and Moldova, had been recovered unconscious in the water off the island of Samos on Wednesday evening and taken to the hospital there. Efforts to resuscitate them failed, a spokeswoman for the coastguards told media.
The other crew members, the Romanian pilot and a Greek colleague, had been saved, the emergency services said.
Nine vessels, five from the Coast Guard, two from the army and two private, as well as a helicopter, took part in the rescue operation.
The helicopter is a Soviet-era Mi-8 and took off from Samos at 16h39 and crashed off the island at 17h55. The helicopter belongs to the Moldovan company Valan International Cargo Charter and was leased by the Greek Fire Service through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency for the current fire season.
State television ERT said the accident occurred when the helicopter was resupplying with sea water to fight a fire that broke out on Wednesday afternoon near the village of Paleochori, in the southwest of the Aegean island.
Greece's coastguard said on Wednesday that it has launched an investigation into the crash.
A total of three helicopters and five aircraft had been deployed to help fire fighters tackle the blaze on Samos, according to the Greek Fire Service. Following last year's deadly fires, foreign rescue workers have been deployed in Greece under an EU mechanism to boost resources.
The fire continued to burn on Thursday, fanned by strong winds. Around 100 fire fighters and 15 vehicles, backed up by an army of volunteers, were on site to tackle it, the authorities said. An inquiry has been launched into the cause of the fire.
Greece is prone to wildfires. Last year, they killed three people and destroyed 130 000 hectares (1 300 square kilometres) of forest.
Sources: NDTV, Euro News, Ekathimerini