7 killed in Serbian military helicopter crash near Belgrade

AP News
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Posted: Mar 14, 2015 11:46 AM
7 killed in Serbian military helicopter crash near Belgrade

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A Serbian military helicopter crashed near Belgrade in foggy weather while evacuating a sick baby from the south of the country, killing all seven people on board, officials said Saturday.

The defense ministry said no one survived the crash late Friday night near Belgrade's international airport, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the capital.

The government said the Russian-made MI-17 transport helicopter had four crew members, two medical workers and the 5-day-old baby with life-threatening respiratory problems.

The crash in limited visibility caused several commercial flights to be rerouted to other airports.

TV footage showed the bulk of the fuselage plunged into a muddy field, with debris spread around. The military sealed off the area while an investigation was ongoing.

The defense ministry said all contact with the aircraft was lost at 10:31 p.m. (2131 GMT) Friday after it apparently tried to make an emergency landing while running out of fuel near the airport. Floodlights at two of Belgrade's biggest soccer stadiums were lit to help the pilots find a spot to land.

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The helicopter was dispatched to the southern region of Raska after an ambulance transporting the baby to an emergency hospital in Belgrade got stuck by a landslide blocking the road.

Serbia's Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic said the chopper was the only one in the army with advanced medevac equipment. He called the killed pilots "the best" the army had.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic called for a day of mourning and offered condolences to the families of the victims.