Thursday, August 8, 2013

► ETHIOPIA: Russian Mil-8 chopper on WFP ferry flight to Juba crashes near Debre Zeyit; no casualties.

A Russian Mil Mi-8MTV (MSN 95642 | RA-25497) helicopter leased from Krasnodar-based firm, PANH Helicopters, by the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) enroute to South Sudan, on the morning of Wednesday 31 July, crashed in a locality called Chefe Donsa, near the town of Debre Zeyit, about 50 km outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All four occupants onboard survived though three sustained serious injuries.

RA-254967 prior to the crash (T Hasimoglu)
The chopper was part of a pair leased by  the WFP and had taken off from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) en route to Juba, South Sudan via Djibouti and Ethiopia. The two were contracted for work in Jonglei, South Sudan.

Addis Ababa based paper, the Reporter, writes that the MI-8 helicopter pilots had contacted the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) and obtained permission to refuel at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. At 04h20L, the pilots contacted Bole indicating they were inbound to the airport.

After refuelling and departing, RA-254967 then lost contact with the tower at 10h20L.

Local residents who saw the crash are said to have dashed to the crash site and cut open the wreckage in order to extract the victims. A local resident took the chief pilot, who was seriously injured, to the local clinic. The ECAA informed Balcha Hospital about the accident with the remaining 3 survivors admitted there in the afternoon.

Initial reports claim the radio equipment that was installed on the helicopter failed at around`10h20L and during the time of the accident there was a foggy weather which contributed to the incident.

The ECAA has opened an investigation.