Seven dead in copter crash in Gulf

SEVEN British servicemen were killed today when two Royal Navy helicopters were involved in an apparent mid-air collision about 15 miles out to sea.

From Michael Lea, on RFA Sir Bedivere in the Persian Gulf

SEVEN British servicemen were killed today when two Royal Navy helicopters were involved in an apparent mid-air collision about 15 miles out to sea.

All are still missing following the crash between Sea King choppers on a routine mission from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal at about 4.35am local time.

Witnesses on board warships stationed in the Persian Gulf reported seeing a flash in the sky.


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Two minesweepers - one British and one US - were despatched to the scene shortly after first reports of the tragedy to help in search and rescue attempts.

HMS Brocklesby and USS Dextrous hunted for survivors and were also tasked to salvage the aircraft, black boxes and weapons from an area in the Gulf close to the Al Faw peninsular.

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The disaster happened about 24 hours after an American CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter went down over Kuwait, killing eight Royal Marines and four US troops.

Today the bodies were being flown by helicopter to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary hospital ship the Argus, which is also based in the Gulf.

No further details were being released until next of kin had been informed.

Commander Charlie Wilson - leading the joint British-US minesweeping operation - said: "It is very sobering news and our sympathies go out to the families.

"I was told at about 5.45am and immediately diverted two of our vessels to help."

More allied lives have now been lost in helicopter accidents since the start of the war than to enemy fire.

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