The Greek military on Wednesday was investigating the cause of a helicopter crash that killed four army officers and injured a fifth, prompting Defense Minister Panos Kammenos to declare three days of national mourning.
The UH-1H helicopter crashed near the village of Sarantaporo in Elassona, central Greece, on Wednesday morning, during a routine patrol flight, according to defense sources.
Such routine flights are regularly carried out as part of exercises to monitor the country’s northern borders, the sources said.
The officers killed in the crash were Major-General Yiannis Tzanidakis, Colonel Thomas Adamou, Major Dimosthenis Goulas and First Lieutenant Constantinos Hatzis. Sergeant Major Vassiliki Plexida emerged from the wreckage with relatively minor injuries but remained in shock late on Wednesday.
It remained unclear what went wrong and caused the so-called Huey chopper to crash.
The UH-1H disappeared from the air force radar shortly before 8 a.m., prompting authorities to dispatch two F-16s, three rescue helicopters and a CL-415 fire service aircraft to search for it.
Police in the area of Sarantaporo reported a helicopter crash shortly after 10 a.m.
The fall knocked out the power supply in the area, raising questions about whether the helicopter hit electricity lines.
Military officials indicated that the UH-1H in question had not had any mechanical problems.
Authorities are expected to question Plexida when she has recovered from her injuries and shock.
Separately Kammenos lashed out at Ankara after six Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space in the Aegean in wake of the four army deaths.
“The violations on a day of mourning in the Greek armed forces... show the quality of the Turks,” Kammenos wrote on his Twitter account.