Home>News Center>World

US navy copter crashes near Colombia
Updated: 2005-12-14 09:13

A U.S. Navy helicopter crashed in the Pacific Ocean off Colombia with three aboard Tuesday, and the Colombian navy joined a search for the missing crew members, U.S. and Colombian officials said.

The SH-60B Seahawk helicopter was within sight of the frigate USS DeWert when it went down in the eastern Pacific, said Bill Austin, a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Station at Mayport, Fla., where the troops were based.

"The helicopter didn't transmit any kind of distress call that we know of," Austin said, adding that the helicopter was conducting normal operations at the time of the crash.

He said he did not know how far the helicopter was from the ship when it went down, or whether it had just taken off or was returning.

The Colombian navy sent a marine patrol plane to join in the U.S. Navy's search, said Colombian Adm. Jairo Pena, commander of Colombia's Pacific fleet.

"We received the report that it fell to the water inexplicably," Pena said, adding that the accident occurred about 5 a.m., but that by Tuesday afternoon, the search still had been fruitless.

He said the DeWert is part of a unit that usually carries out anti-drug missions in international waters. "We are searching in a zone about 350 miles from the Colombian coast," off the port of Buenaventura, Pena said.

Colombia is the world's largest cocaine producer and a major supplier of heroin to the United States.

The crew members were assigned to the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 48 based in Mayport, the U.S. Navy said in a statement, but did not say what they were doing in the area.

Navy aircraft often fly counter-drug missions off ships in the area.

The U.S. has been helping the Colombian police and military battle the country's drug gangs and have made several major arrests in recent years. The Pacific coast of Colombia is a popular haven for drug smugglers, particularly from the Ecuador border up toward Buenaventura, where there are few roads and many inland waterways.

Since 2000, the United States has spent $4 billion for "Plan Colombia," a joint U.S.-Colombia anti-drug program. The United States provides the Colombian government with training, equipment and other aid under the project.

U.S.-made helicopter crashes in Colombia generally have involved U.S.-donated helicopters flown by Colombian troops on military missions. Since 1999, six U.S.-made Black Hawks have crashed in Colombia, killing at least 67 Colombian soldiers and injuring 37.

Kashmiri earthquake survivor
Sixth WTO Ministerial Conferences to open
Fuel depot explodes in north London
  Today's Top News     Top World News

Japan motive for huge military expense questioned



China moves to fourth in GDP rankings



68th anniversary of massacre marked



Putin: Toxic spill incident not to hurt ties



Drive for donations gets fillip



Yuan gains; revaluation pressure to ease


  Iraqis go to the polls in 15 countries
  Investigator: US shipped out detainees
  Iran: No need for US security guarantee
  Britain may publish July 7 bombing findings
  Former US president Ford hospitalized
  Bomb kills 4 US soldiers in Iraq
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.