Three army officers are killed in helicopter crash

A military helicopter crashed in northern Greece close to Thessaloniki yesterday, killing three officers on board, in an accident authorities are attributing to mechanical failure. The helicopter, a single-engine Huey, crashed in a wheat field around 30 kilometers east of Thessaloniki, close to the village of Vassiloudi. The helicopter was on a flight to the military base of Rentina some and had nearly reached its destination, police said. Firefighters found the bodies of the three officers, aged 24, 28 and 33, in the charred remains of the helicopter. The men had not been named by last night. The mayor of the nearby village of Koroneia, Pavlos Papageridis, said he was driving past the area where the crash took place, when he came across a «terrifying» sight. «Thick smoke had covered the area. The lake of Aghios Vassileios had turned black and we could only see a helicopter wing,» he said. Another eyewitness said an explosion had taken place in midair, indicating there may have been a problem with the helicopter’s fuel supply. Firefighters said they reached the crash site quickly to extinguish the blaze. In 2006, four Greek army staff died when their Bell Iroquois UH-1H Huey crashed in a field in the north of the country while on a training flight. Multipurpose helicopters, Hueys are among the oldest aircraft used by Greek forces. The model first saw action with the US armed forces during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

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