August 26, 2014 (JUBA) – A United Nations-contracted helicopter has crashed in South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity state, killing three Russian crew members on board.
- A United Nations helicoper (UN photo)
The MI-8 helicopter went down about 10km south of the state capital, Bentiu, on Tuesday at 2.28pm (local time), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement.
“Concerning the helicopter incident in South Sudan, the UN Mission in South Sudan can confirm that three crew members of a helicopter contracted by the United Nations died today (Tuesday) when it crashed near Bentiu in Unity state,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said at a press conference in New York.
The sole surviving crew member has received treatment from Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Bentiu, said Dujarric.
The helicopter, which was contracted from a Russian company, was on a routine cargo flight from Wau to Bentiu when contact was lost.
UNMISS dispatched a search and rescue team to the site of the incident.
The circumstances leading up to the incident remains unknown.
The mission said it has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.
“Investigations regarding the cause of the incident will begin as soon as possible,” it said in a statement.
Toby Lanzer, the officer-in-charge of UNMISS, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased and wished a full and speedy recovery to the injured crew member.
Unity state has been a flashpoint for violence since conflict erupted in South Sudan in mid-December last year, with Bentiu changing hands several times between government forces and rebel fighters.