Military Helicopter Crashes, 11 Feared Dead
A military helicopter carrying seven marines and four soldiers went missing around 8:30 pm Tuesday off the Florida Panhandle. They are presumed to be dead as rescue operation continued on Wednesday. Despite some human remains getting washed ashore, the missing individuals are yet to be found.
No official statement has been released so far regarding the cause of the crash. Heavy fog in the area has been impeding the search operation. The fog was also prevalent at the time of the crash near Eglin Air Force Base about 50 miles east of Pensacola, and authorities point to such factor as the cause of the accident.
It might be one of the deadliest air crashes that occurred during military training in decades, according to Reuters. The routine military exercise involved two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, one of which crashed, the base said in a statement.
Louisiana National Guard’s Major General Glenn Curtis told reporters that the doomed helicopter had “started to take off and then realized, I guess, that the weather was a condition and turned around.”
The Marines had joined the unit from North Carolina and had become part of a special operation conducting amphibious “helicopter and boat insertion and extraction training.” The Marine Corps statement announced that the focus of the exercise was to get troops in and out of specific areas.
President Obama expressed condolences over the incident, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, told reporters. He added that Obama expects a thorough investigation of the incident.
All news agencies reported that all 11 members are supposed to be dead, as what they were told by military sources.
However, Major General Glenn Curtis said, “There is always room for optimism… The fog has been hampering our search efforts, and more fog is continuing to roll in.”