NEWS

The full Chinook search records

Alarms only went off about the army helicopter that crashed in the north Aegean nine days ago, killing 17 people, some two hours and 20 minutes after impact, according to civil aviation records obtained by Kathimerini. Entries in the Merchant Marine Ministry’s Centre for Search and Rescue Coordination (EKSED) log also show that the first aircraft took off to look for the missing Chinook transport helicopter over half an hour after that, at 1.49 p.m. The helicopter is believed to have crashed at 10.56 a.m. The air force chief of staff was sacked for the delay – the defense minister says he was only informed around 2.25 p.m. – concerning which an investigation is under way. The first official sign of concern regarding the fate of the aircraft carrying a delegation of clerics, led by Petros, Patriarch of Alexandria and the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Africa, on a visit to Mount Athos was shown at 12.15 p.m. by the Athens Flight Control Center (KEPATH). At 12.37, Tactical Air Force Headquarters (ATA), the National Air Control Center (EKAE), the Air Force General Staff (GEA) and the Operations Center (KEPIH) were informed that the Chinook was missing. But officials at the army helicopter base in Megara, western Attica, informed callers that they had spoken to the helicopter crew by mobile phone, and all was well. Finally, at 1.15 p.m., KEPATH sounded the alarm, with a warning that the helicopter might have crashed. Between 1.18 and 1.47 p.m., three air force units were placed on maximum alert, and orders were given for aircraft to take off and look for the Chinook. At 1.49 p.m., an air force C-47 transport took off, and the coast guard started its search-and-rescue operation. The crash site was located at 3.45 p.m.