Helicopter wreck probed for clues on fatal crash

Armed forces experts yesterday analyzed the wreckage of a UH-1H Huey military helicopter that crashed in the northern prefecture of Pella on Monday night, killing all four army staff on board, for evidence of what might have caused the accident. Experts said the likeliest cause of the accident was mechanical failure, as weather conditions had been good and there had been no visibility problems. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis visited the site of the crash, near the village of Melissi, while opposition deputes criticized the government for failing to replace the old Huey helicopters with more sophisticated models. Meimarakis was flown over the site of the crash in another helicopter of the same make as his ministry pledged to withdraw the single-engine craft from sorties in the Aegean and said it would conduct a technical evaluation of the army’s 101 Huey helicopters. A coroner confirmed that all four armed forces staff aboard the doomed helicopter, which had been on a night-time training exercise, had died instantly, apparently from injuries sustained during impact. The crash victims were identified as army air force captain Christos Karypidis and three non-commissioned officers, Ilias Karabas, Adam Adamopoulos and Constantinos Fotiadis. Karypidis and Karabas had logged 2,939 and 2,273 flight hours respectively. Their ages were not made public. The helicopter had taken off from a military base at Alexandria, in the prefecture of Imathia, at 7.30 p.m. on Monday and had disappeared from radar screens shortly after 8 p.m., according to authorities, who said that the helicopter crew had not reported any problems during their last communication a few minutes before the crash.

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