US aid helicopter crashes in tsunami-hit Aceh
A US navy Seahawk helicopter bringing aid to victims of the tsunami disaster on Indonesia's Sumatra Island crashed on Monday leaving four people slightly injured, aid and military officials said.
The helicopter with a crew of 10 was flying in from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to begin relief sorties when it came down at 7:15 am outside Banda Aceh, the hub of aid operations in badly ravaged Aceh province.
Colonel David Kelley, a marine officer in charge of the US contingent in Banda Aceh, said it was "hard to tell" the condition of the crew, but aid workers told US officers that four were injured.
A French firefighter of the Securtie Civile was heard telling a US navy officer at the airport in Banda Aceh: "I am sorry about your machine, there are four slightly hurt."
The helicopter landed on its right side in a rice paddy close to its usual landing site on a football field.
It appeared intact, but its rotor blades were damaged, according to an agency reporter at the scene.
A foreign aid official said that the injured had been taken to a field hospital at the airport.
"It was one of the helicopters coming in from the ship in the morning, probably bringing stuff from the navy. It crashed around five to six kilometres from the airfield," he said.
More than 100,000 Indonesians were killed in the December 26 quake and tsunami disaster, which has prompted a huge international relief operation.