10 killed in Malaysia after mid-air helicopter crash at Lumut navy base in Perak

Ten people were killed in Malaysia on Tuesday after two helicopters collided in mid-air during a rehearsal for a naval parade, the Royal Malaysian Navy said in a statement.

All 10 were crew members aboard the aircraft involved in the accident, which occurred at the Lumut naval base in the western state of Perak at 9.32am on Tuesday morning, the navy said.

“All victims were confirmed dead at the scene and sent to the Lumut naval base military hospital for identification,” the navy said.

A video of the incident circulating on social media showed several helicopters flying in formation, before one of the aircraft clipped another with its rotor and both crashed to the ground. Local police confirmed the footage was genuine.

The two aircraft took off from a field at Sitiawan at 9.03am and were training for a flyover for the navy’s 90th anniversary celebration next month.

Malaysian Defence Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin said one of the helicopters crashed into a swimming pool while the other crashed into a stadium within the military compound.

“I am going straight to Lumut to inspect the situation on the ground closely,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday, confirming that an investigation would be launched.

Efforts were under way to verify the identities of the crew members killed, all of whom were below the age of 40, Mohamed Khaled told reporters. The two helicopters were on their third practice run when they collided, he said.

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Fire and rescue department personnel inspect the crash site of one of the two helicopters in Lumut, Perak state, on Tuesday morning. Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information via AP

The fly-past rehearsal was for the Malaysian navy’s Fleet Open Day, scheduled to be held at the Lumut base in May, the Housing and Local Government Ministry said in a statement.

The navy said seven crew members were aboard the AW139 maritime operation helicopter, which is produced by AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of the Italian defence contractor Leonardo. Three other crew members were on the Fennec lightweight helicopter, manufactured by European multinational defence conglomerate Airbus.

The nation mourns the heart-wrenching and soul-wrenching tragedy involving the crash of two helicopters
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia’s king, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

He said that he and the queen, his wife Raja Zarith Sofiah, were “deeply saddened by the loss of the nation’s heroes in this tragedy”.

“Condolences to those who have left us forever. May they be placed among the believers and also the martyrs,” Sultan Ibrahim said.

“I also want the Malaysian armed forces to conduct a thorough investigation to obtain full information about this incident.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in a statement that the tragedy had a profound effect on the country’s military and was a great loss for the country.

“The nation mourns the heart-wrenching and soul-wrenching tragedy involving the crash of two helicopters,” Anwar said.

“May the soul of all those who died be showered with mercy and placed among the believers and the righteous.”

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There were no survivors of the crash involving two Royal Malaysian Navy helicopters at Lumut naval base. Photo: Facebook/Fire And Rescue Department Of Malaysia
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The navy said seven crew members were aboard the AgustaWestland helicopter and three were on the Fennec lightweight helicopter. Photo: Facebook/KPKT Malaysia

Additional reporting by Associated Press, The Star

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