A technical error was blamed for the military helicopter crash that left 19 people dead and two others injured in the capital city of Hanoi on Monday morning, a senior military official said.
Lieutenant-general Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of the Army General Staff, told news website VnExpress that the crash had nothing to do with a “sabotage plot from outside forces” as some may have assumed.
The accident occurred at around 7:50 a.m. when a Russian-made MI-171 chopper from Regiment 916 fell out of the sky with 21 people onboard, including three crew members, two trainers, and 16 soldiers, during a parachuting exercise.
The helicopter took off from Hoa Lac military airport in Hanoi’s Ba Vi District at 7:30 a.m. and lost contact with the base 16 minutes later.
The helicopter reportedly made landfall near Village 11 in Thach Hoa Commune, Thach That District, around 500 meters away from a market and 40 kilometers west of Hanoi.
The crash site was around three kilometers from the airbase.
Sixteen people on board were killed and five others seriously burned. The injured have been treated at the National Institute for Burn Victims.
Three more soldiers succumbed to their injuries later in the evening, bringing the total fatalities to 19. The other twp injured are still being treated.
Lieutenant-General Tuan said the crew members had managed to direct the helicopter far from crowded areas as soon as they detected the technical error.
He said the MI-171 chopper met safety standards before the flight.
“Authorities have found the flight recorder and are still investigating the cause of the accident based on the data collected,” he said.
The helicopter was engaged in a routine training course on search and rescue.
Authorities are still cleaning up the debris in and around the crash site.