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Nine Aussies dead in chopper crash: reports

Reports from the Indonesian island of Nias say that as many as nine Australian Defence Force personnel have been killed in a helicopter crash in the remote southern region of the island.

A Royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopter is said to have been approaching the village of Amandraya when it crashed on land.

A report from Australian Associated Press (AAP) quotes the captain of the HMAS Kanimbla, Commander George McGuire, as saying that two of the people on board the helicopter were seriously injured.

"We believe the rest of the personnel died," he told AAP.

However, an Indonesian air force spokesman has told Agence France Presse (AFP) that residents in the village saw the crash and saw three people climbing out of the helicopter afterwards.

The Kanimbla, equipped with Sea King helicopters and medical personnel, arrived off Nias on Saturday to help deliver aid and medical care to survivors of a massive earthquake.

On Monday a magnitude 8.7 earthquake hit the area, killing hundreds.

The Kanimbla is heading towards the area to try to reach the downed aircraft.

Many of the roads on Nias, a rugged tropical island off the coast of Sumatra, were left impassable by the earthquake.

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Nine Dead in Australian Chopper Crash Off Indonesia
Sat Apr 2, 2005 09:13 AM ET

SYDNEY/GUNUNGSITOLI, Indonesia (Reuters) - An Australian navy helicopter crashed off the quake-hit Indonesian island of Nias Saturday, with Australian media saying nine people on board were killed.
The Australian Defense Department said the Royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopter crashed near Gunungsitoli on the Indonesian island of Nias shortly after 7:30 p.m Australian eastern time (4:30 a.m. EST).

The spokesman said the helicopter, from the HMAS Kanimbla, had 11 people on board including three crew but there was confusion about who else was on board.

A reporter from Australian Associated Press on board the Kanimbla reported that the Kanimbla's crew had been told that nine people, all Australians, on board the helicopter had died.

In Jakarta, Indonesian air force spokesman Sagom Tambun said by telephone the helicopter had evacuated earthquake victims and was on its way back to the Kanimbla.

"But before it could reach the ship, it fell and burned ... residents saw three of its crew escape and they are now on the ship, but we don't know yet how many crew were in the helicopter," the spokesman said.

The AAP reporter said Kanimbla Commander George McGuire had told reporters on board the ship that the helicopter was carrying an emergency medical team but had crashed as it approached to land near the village of Amandraya.

McGuire said two people survived but were in a serious condition. He said those on board the helicopter included five Navy personnel, three from the Royal Australian Air Force and one from the Australian army.

The Kanimbla, an amphibious transport ship sent to provide relief after Monday's 8.7 magnitude earthquake off Nias. Up to 1,300 people may have died in Gunungsitoli alone, according to U.N. officials.

"The Kanimbla is steaming toward the crash site," the defense spokesman said.

The Kanimbla had been part of a A$1 billion ($770 million) assistance package provided by Australia in the wake of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami that left almost 300,000 dead or listed as missing around the Indian Ocean rim.

The Kanimbla had been stationed off Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra island and was on its way home after a month-long mission before it was ordered to return after Monday's quake.

($1=A$1.30)
 

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Australia's Howard Says Crash a `Terrible Accident' (Update1)

April 3 - Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the crash of a navy helicopter aiding earthquake victims on Indonesia's Nias island was a ``terrible accident.''

Nine Australians died and two were injured in the crash, Australian Defense Force Chief Peter Cosgrove said at a press briefing in Canberra today. It was the worst peacetime military accident since 1996, when 18 soldiers died after helicopters collided during a training flight in Queensland, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported.

``This is really quite heartbreaking. Those young Australians were on a mission of mercy and compassion,'' Howard said in a radio interview today with state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. ``To lose nine young Australians on a mission such as this is quite terrible news.''

The Sea King helicopter, operating off the supply ship HMAS Kanimbla, was flying low when it crashed. The cause of the accident is under investigation, General Cosgrove said. Australian relief efforts to Indonesia will continue, he said.

The aircraft were sent to Indonesia to aid relief efforts after an 8.7-magnitude earthquake struck the western coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island on March 28, killing more than 400 people and leaving thousands injured and homeless.

Survivors

The two military personnel that survived the crash were being treated for injuries, a spokesman for the Australian Defense Force in Canberra said last night in a phone interview.

The helicopter crashed at 4:30 p.m. Indonesian time yesterday while trying to make an emergency landing in the town of Teluk Dalam on the southern part of Nias, the most heavily populated area nearest to the epicenter of the earthquake, the Defense Force Web site said.

Governor-General Michael Jeffery, a Vietnam War veteran, sent his condolences to the families of the victims and the Kanimbla crew, saying on Sky News television the tragedy ``cut to the inner being of all involved, service members, families, friends, indeed the nation.''

The governor-general is Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Australia.

The quake on March 28 killed at least 404 people and left 56,064 people homeless, Indonesia's National Information Agency said yesterday. The final toll may reach about 1,400 people, the United Nations has said.
 

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Nine Aussies die on chopper rescue mission
By CLARE MASTERS on HMAS Kanimbla

April 3, 2005

A ROYAL Australian Navy helicopter crashed on a rescue mission in earthquake-stricken Indonesia last night, killing nine defence personnel.


Helping out: Australian Defence Force doctors and nurses brought aboard HMAS Kanimbla by Sea King helicopter last week


Two others were injured when the Sea King helicopter, from HMAS Kanimbla, came down as it was trying to land in a remote part of the devastated island of Nias.
Those killed – seven men and two women – were five Navy personnel, three RAAF members and one Army soldier.

The two male survivors were airlifted from the crash scene and were being operated on last night aboard the Kanimbla.

"They are in a serious condition with leg fractures and other injuries," Kanimbla's Commander George McGuire said.

The Australians had been diverted to Nias only days before they were due to return home after three months in Sumatra helping victims of the Boxing Day tsunami.

The Sea King carried an emergency medical team and was looking for casualties of last week's earthquake in rugged country that had not been visited by relief workers.

Another Sea King following its did not see the crash but arrived minutes later to find the burning wreck of the chopper with bodies trapped inside.

The Defence Department said in a statement in Canberra that the crash occurred at approximately 7.30pm Australian time.

"The helicopter, from HMAS Kanimbla, was conducting a sortie in support of Operation Sumatra Assist (Phase 2), the Australian Defence Force's humanitarian contribution to the earthquake relief effort," the Defence Department said.

This reporter from The Sunday Telegraph on board the Kanimbla heard of the crash 26 minutes after it had happened. She heard a radio message: "Problem with chopper. No survivors." The accident happened at 4.30pm local time and the light was said to be okay for flying.

Experts said it was thought mechanical failure was the most likely cause of the crash.

Shattered crew members on the Kanimbla cried and bowed their heads in shock in the ship's mess room when they heard the news of the deaths.

The accident is the worst loss of life in a peacetime military helicopter crash since 1996, when 18 soldiers were killed when two Army Blackhawks collided on a training exercise in Queensland.

The Kanimbla's helicopters were to be used to distribute food, water and medical supplies.

With the island's airstrip destroyed, aid had been trickling in slowly and heavy earthmoving equipment needed to shift rubble had been stuck on the mainland.

The Navy personnel killed in last night's crash should have been home and reunited with their loved ones after three months in Indonesia.

Kanimbla, with its 60 medical personnel, was already in Singapore after its rescue and rebuilding efforts following the Boxing Day tsunami when it was turned back to help Indonesia through its latest natural disaster.

Commander McGuire received the order to divert to Nias following last week's tragic earthquake.

The ship's Sea King helicopters were deployed to Nias to evacuate those most in need of urgent medical attention – for treatment on board the vessel, which has two operating theatres.

HMAS Kanimbla was originally built for the US Navy and acquired by the Navy in 1994.

Along with HMAS Manoora, the Kanimbla underwent extensive modifications for new roles as helicopter-capable amphibious transports. Their primary roles are to transport, lodge ashore and support an Army contingent of 450 troops and their vehicles and equipment.

The Sunday Telegraph
 

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This is a tragedy.

I think it's sad that this thread has received no replies - and many news stations ran this story #2 to the pope's death. I'm sure he will be missed by millions, but at the end of the day he was a very old man who led a good life and has been sick for many years now. If it were any other person people would be glad he didn't have to suffer any more. There really isn't anything to be sad about, he's moved on to a better life.

This story had nine young australians die selflessly helping others in need. This is the worst thing to happen to the ADF in nearlly a decade. But, we will bounce back. The operation will continue.
 

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Neo said:
This is a tragedy.

This story had nine young australians die selflessly helping others in need. This is the worst thing to happen to the ADF in nearlly a decade. But, we will bounce back. The operation will continue.
I agree with you about the Pope.

Selfless? It was their job that they chose, trained for and were payed to do.
It is a tragedy but these guys are working acording to orders (as most of us do), not going on some altruistic mission for the needy payed for themselves.
How many other Australians died on the job today?

I am not rebuffing your claims or the tragic loss of life. Just that they were on a selfless mission.
 

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terrible news. Wasnt some of the killed actually on the ship that was turned around last week? lost for words...
 

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Stuipid papers^
 

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Neo said:
This is a tragedy.

I think it's sad that this thread has received no replies - and many news stations ran this story #2 to the pope's death. I'm sure he will be missed by millions, but at the end of the day he was a very old man who led a good life and has been sick for many years now. If it were any other person people would be glad he didn't have to suffer any more. There really isn't anything to be sad about, he's moved on to a better life.

This story had nine young australians die selflessly helping others in need. This is the worst thing to happen to the ADF in nearlly a decade. But, we will bounce back. The operation will continue.
Yeah. For once the terrorgraph actually did something right. This was front-page on Sunday, however they also did a liftout on the Pope (which was very well put together, I might add). I believe that gave both stories the respect they deserved.

You're right - the operation will likely continue - which is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the Australian Defence Forces.

Kwikaas: Just because you are paid for a job like this doesn't mean it's not selfless. Their lives were taken helping the needy. They were putting their lives on the line for an honorable cause - whether they were paid for it or not.
 
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