Haiti honors four Spanish soldiers killed in chopper crash | world | Hindustan Times
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Haiti honors four Spanish soldiers killed in chopper crash

world Updated: Apr 19, 2010 07:17 IST

Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon joined Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive at a ceremony Sunday to honor the four Spanish soldiers killed in a recent helicopter crash.

The "simple" ceremony took place aboard the Castilla, a supply ship serving as base for 450 soldiers sent from Madrid to Haiti after the January 12 earthquake that devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation, Spanish Consul General Juan Carlos Gomez told AFP.

The tribute was also attended by Haitian Foreign Minister Marie-Michele Rey, UN special envoy to Haiti Edmond Mulet, as well as senior Spanish military officials.

The exact conditions of Friday's crash had yet to be established, but the Spanish Defense Ministry said the helicopter was returning from the Dominican Republic with another helicopter when the two aircraft lost contact with each other due to poor visibility.

A search team found the wreckage on the side of a mountain near Fond-Verettes, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of Port-au-Prince.

"The cause is still under investigation, but the accident was mainly due to weather, including heavy clouds, and the geographical conditions in mountainous areas where there are air currents" that cause problems for pilots, said Gomez.

The helicopter went down in the same area where a Uruguayan transport plane crashed October 9, killing 11 peacekeepers -- six Uruguayans and five Jordanians.

The bodies of the Spanish soldiers, who were part of Spain's 450-member military detachment sent to Haiti after the quake that killed 220,000 people, will be returned home aboard the plane with Chacon, who was due to depart Port-au-Prince Sunday evening.