EKAB ’copter, crew found

A deep-sea research vessel discovered the wreckage of a medical airlift helicopter, with its four crewmen still strapped to their seats, at a depth of 75 meters, 1.2 miles off the eastern Aegean island of Icaria late on Wednesday. The National First Aid Center (EKAB) helicopter, an Agusta A109E, had disappeared on Feb. 11 while approaching from Mytilene to pick up a patient. The cause of the crash is being examined. Divers from the Aigaio oceanographic vessel retrieved the body of Dr Maged Safadi and then began freeing the body of paramedic Ioannis Kouroulis. The bodies of pilot Efstratios Fotiadis and co-pilot Ilias Mentis will only be retrieved when the fuselage, which is lying upside down, is brought to the surface, owing to the damage to the front section. A prosecutor and representative of the helicopter’s manufacturer will oversee the raising of the wreckage, so as to prevent damage that would complicate the probe into the causes of the crash. The military took over medical airlifts after the third EKAB crash in two years.

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