Four servicemembers killed in Iraq helo crash
One Marine and three other servicemembers were killed when a CH-46 helicopter went down Sunday in Anbar province, U.S. military officials said Monday.
The twin-rotor Sea Knight helicopter was assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and was forced to make “an emergency water landing,” according to a news release from the U.S. command in Baghdad.
Sixteen servicemembers were on the aircraft. The 12 other passengers and crew were “accounted for” Sunday, but no information was available on the extent of any injuries.
One Marine was pulled from the water and died after being given medical treatment, officials said. Three others — identified by the military only as “servicemembers” — were initially unaccounted for after the crash. By late Monday, U.S. officials said the three other bodies had been recovered as well.
“We have recovered all of our comrades," Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Salas said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.”
Though an investigation is under way, U.S. military officials said it does not appear the helicopter was brought down by enemy fire.
“Initial reports confirm the helicopter experienced mechanical difficulties and therefore executed an emergency landing,” according to a statement issued by the Marine command at Camp Fallujah.
American military officials in Baghdad said the helicopter went down in Lake Qadisiyah near Haditha, about 150 miles northwest of Baghdad along the Euphrates River. Marines have used the Haditha Dam — overlooking the violent town of the same name — as a base for several years.
Wire reports quoted residents of Haditha as saying U.S. military forces had sealed off the crash area by Monday morning.
It is the second deadly aircraft incident for American forces in as many weeks. On Nov. 27, an Air Force F-16 crashed in a field east of Fallujah, killing the pilot.
One of the single deadliest incidents of the war was another helicopter crash in western Iraq. In January 2005, a Marine CH-46 went down near the Jordanian border, killing all 31 servicemembers aboard.