Military report on ’copter crash

Air-force radar operators and the army air arm are to blame for leaving military authorities and rescuers in the dark for over two hours after an army helicopter crashed last month killing 17, the Defense Ministry said yesterday. The Chinook, which was carrying a senior church delegation – led by Petros, Patriarch of Alexandria and head of the Orthodox Church in Africa – to Mount Athos, fell into the sea on September 11, a few miles short of its destination. Everyone on board died. But military authorities failed to register the crash, sounding the alarm two hours and 15 minutes after the accident, while the rescue effort started half an hour later. The air force chief of staff was sacked. Yesterday, the Defense Ministry released a summary of a report by military investigators into the delay, which blamed «negligence and poor coordination of the personnel responsible for tracking military flights.» These included radar operators on Mount Hortiatis, northern Greece, and personnel at the helicopter unit. «Disciplinary action will be taken,» the ministry said.