Rescue called off in US helicopters clash

Rescuers today called off operations after accounting for the 10 United States troops who were missing after two US Marine transport helicopters crashed into the sea, an official said in Kenya.

The US military normally publicly acknowledges any successful rescue of servicemen, as it did on Friday in announcing that two injured crew members were recovered at the crash site.

In saying that the 10 previously missing crew members had been accounted for, the US military command in Djibouti did not indicate they had been recovered alive.

“We are not giving additional details on the status or condition of the crew out of respect for the next-of-kin,” said Major Susan Romano of the US-led Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

“Notifications are still ongoing,” according to a statement from the force deployed to combat terrorism in the region.

The CH-53E choppers, carrying a dozen crew and troops, went down Friday in the Gulf of Aden, near the northern coastal town of Ras Siyyan.

The two rescued crew members were today flown to the US military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southern Germany, Romano said. They were in stable condition.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, Romano said, adding that navy divers and aviation experts were on the scene and that a large section of a CH-53E helicopter had been found.

Visibility had been good at the time of the crash, with light winds.

The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, set up in the former French colony in June 2002, is responsible for fighting terrorism in nine countries in the region: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia in Africa and Yemen on the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

The helicopters are part of the HMH 464 squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

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