Top Cypriot officers killed in helicopter crash
A helicopter crash in southwestern Cyprus on Wednesday killed the commanders of the Cyprus National Guard and air force, the defense minister said.
The guard commander, Gen. Evangelos Florakis, and the air force commander, Wing Cmdr. Vassilis Dervenagas, were traveling together as part of a military exercise, Defense Minister Socrates Hassikos said at a news conference.
The helicopter's air force crew, Paris Athanasides and Michael Shakalis, and Florakis's aide de camp, navy Cmdr. Nikos Georghiou, also were killed. There were no survivors and no other aircraft were involved, AP reported.
The defense minister said it was too early to speculate about the cause and that a full inquiry would be conducted.
Hassikos said the crash of the Bell 206 helicopter occurred at about 4:55 a.m. Wednesday near Paphos, about 125 kilometers southwest of Nicosia. The helicopter crashed into a dry riverbed near a village, whose residents alerted police.
Hassikos said it was the first accident since the helicopter wing of the National Guard was formed 18 years ago. (Albawaba.com)
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