Saturday, March 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

US copter crash kills 12 soldiers

Washington, March 21
A US Marine helicopter crashed in Kuwait today, killing the eight British and four American soldiers aboard, military officials said. The cause of the crash was under investigation, the officials said, adding that hostile fire had not been reported in the area. Earlier, US officials had said 12 Britons and four Americans had died.

Group Capt Al Lockwood, spokesman for British forces in the Gulf, said the helicopter had not been shot down.

“It was an accident, I can confirm it was not brought down by enemy action,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter was assigned to the Marine Expeditionary Force.

It crashed at 00:37 GMT (0607 IST) this morning in Kuwait, 15 km away from the border with Iraq, military officials said.

Lt-Col Ben Curry, British Royal Marines spokesman, said the crash occurred as troops were being deployed to seize oil fields on the Al Faw peninsula in southern Iraq. Otherwise, the operation had been a success, he added.

“Iraqi resistance has been light and there have been enemy casualties and prisoners,” he added.

The Marines use the Sea Knight, a bus-like helicopter with two large rotors, to fly troops from ships at sea or base camps to forward positions.

The Navy and Marines grounded all 291 Sea Knight helicopters in August after an inspection of one helicopter in North Carolina found a crack in a rotor assembly. A Marine Corps CH-46 crashed in 2001, killing three Marines and injuring two. APBack

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