Annan, Security Council offer condolences after fatal helicopter crash in Sierra Leone
The Ukrainian MI-8 helicopter had plunged into the sea about 500 metres north of Man of War Bay, Aberdeen Peninsula, after it left the Mammy Yoko helipad of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and headed for Lungi airport. On board were four Ukrainian crew members, one Bulgarian civilian and two Zambian military staff.
In a statement released by his spokesman, the Secretary-General extended heartfelt condolences to the Governments of Ukraine and Zambia and to the bereaved families. Mr. Annan also expressed deep appreciation for "the services rendered by these UNAMSIL staff members in the pursuit of peace in Sierra Leone."
According to Mr. Annan's spokesman, initial indications are that the cause of the accident is mechanical and "no foul play or sabotage is suspected."
For her part, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, expressed condolences, on behalf of Council members, to the Governments and families of the deceased. "Members of the Council also expressed their deep appreciation of the services rendered by these UNAMSIL staff members, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace in Sierra Leone," she told reporters following closed-door consultations.
Three bodies were recovered from the wreckage, UNAMSIL said. With four people still missing, search efforts, which had been suspended last night at midnight, continued in the area today.
The three bodies, recovered after an extensive search late Wednesday, were taken to Connaught Hospital. The search was carried out using helicopters belonging to the UN mission and three fast patrol boats and crew provided by the Sierra Leone Army. The United States Embassy and the British Forces Liaison Office also supported the effort.