Iran Finds Wreckage of Helicopter, Fate of Pilots still Unknown
Iran has located the wreckage of a helicopter that went down in the Gulf earlier this month but the fate of the two Iranian pilots is still unknown, press reports said Thursday.
The government-run Iran newspaper, citing an unnamed naval official, said the wreck is 85 meters (280 feet) underwater and 200 meters (220 yards) from the Saga 2 platform in the Gulf's giant South Pars gas field.
Three passengers were rescued from the August 15th crash, but pilot Abolhassan Maleki and his co-pilot Sattar Nobarzadeh have yet to be found amid conflicting reports on their fate.
The naval official said footage from the cameras of a search vessel showed "unidentified" objects in the cockpit and added that Omani divers would investigate to "dispel all doubts about the pilots' outcome."
The United States has denied Iranian reports that a US navy ship rescued the two pilots alive in the Gulf shortly after the late-night crash.
But the Iranian foreign ministry said Monday that the United States had provided "insufficient" information about the two men and that it was pursuing the matter through Swiss intermediaries.
The Swiss embassy, which has represented US interests here since Tehran and Washington broke off diplomatic relations in 1980, confirmed it was mediating contacts between the two sides but gave no further details.
The conservative Tehran Times on Thursday cited a source who apparently talked with one of the three survivors who said he had seen one pilot afloat in the Gulf in his life jacket and still alive after the crash.
There is as yet no word on the cause of the accident.
An Iranian and Egyptian were rescued unharmed, while the third survivor, an Indian national, escaped with only a broken leg. The helicopter belonged to the state Oil Company - TEHRAN (AFP)
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