The Vietnamese military said it will inspect the entire fleet of vintage UH-1 helicopters after one crashed yesterday in Ho Chi Minh City, killing all four crew members.
Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the People’s Army, ruled out sabotage as a possible reason behind the crash.
“As of this moment, I can confirm that it went down due to serious breakdowns” that the crew could not fix, general Tuan said.
The Vietnam War era helicopter went down in a mangrove forest in Binh Chanh District at 7.17 a.m., eight minutes after it took off from Tan Son Nhat Airport on a training flight.
Local residents said they heard an explosion after the plane hit the ground, about 700 meters away from a residential area.
At the crash site, the US-made chopper was largely destroyed, except for part of the tail boom, our reporters said. Debris could be seen scattered across a small area of the forest.
The four crew members, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Van Duc, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Do Van Chinh, Major Le Hong Quan and Lieutenant Nguyen Viet Cuong died immediately.
Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper yesterday quoted the Military Hospital 175 as saying that DNA identification of the victims was being done.
Workers move piece of the wreckage at a crash site of a military helicopter UH-1 in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City Jan. 28, 2015. Photo: Thuan Thang/Tuoi Tre.
General Tuan said the crashed helicopter had undergone overhaul two years ago.
“After this accident, certainly all UH-1 helicopters will be inspected technically,” he said.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has sent condolences to the soldiers’ families and ordered local authorities to pay them due tributes and provide necessary support.
He urged a thorough investigation to prevent similar accidents from happening.
Vietnam seized about 50 UH-1, better known as “Hueys,” from the US-backed army of South Vietnam after the war ended in 1975. Local media reported last year that 14 of them were still operational.
Last July, a Russian-made Mi-171 chopper crashed on the outskirts of Hanoi during a training exercise, killing 20 soldiers aboard. Only one soldier survived with severe injuries.