Five injured in military helicopter crash in Port Harcourt

FIVE crew members of the Nigerian military have sustained ‘minor’ injuries after their MI-35P helicopter crash-landed in Port Harcourt, River state on Friday, December 1.

The incident happened at about 7:45 am, shortly after the aircraft took off for an operation against economic saboteurs in the state.

A statement by the NAF director of public relations and information, Edward Gabkwet, an air commodore, said the NAF MI-35P had taken off on an operation against oil thieves.

Part of the statement read, “A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) MI-35P helicopter has crashed at Port Harcourt today, December 1, 2023. The unfortunate incident occurred at about 7.45 am, shortly after the aircraft took off for an operation against economic saboteurs in Rivers state.

“Fortunately, the entire crew of five survived the crash with very minor injuries and are currently being attended to at NAF Medical Centre, Port Harcourt.’

Gabwet said that the Chief of Air Staff, Hasan Abubakar, an air marshal, was on his way to the scene to assess the situation and give further directives on the incident.

“An incident of this nature is yet again a grim reminder of the dangers associated with military flying and the risks NAF pilots and technicians experience in their onerous tasks of defending our nation and deterring criminal elements from their nefarious activities, ” the statement added.

The incident is the latest crash to involve a NAF aircraft in 2023, with a number of casualties. 

In July, the Air Force (NAF) FT-7NI trainer aircraft crashed in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, during a routine training exercise, resulting in injuries to the two pilots onboard.

Similarly, on August 14, The ICIR reported that a Nigerian Air Force MI-171 aircraft on a casualty evacuation mission was gunned down by bandits affiliated to Dogo Gide.

    The aircraft, which crashed near Chukuba village in Niger state, at about 1 p.m., was on its way to Kaduna from Niger state.

    Meanwhile, The ICIR had, on May 30, reported that Nigeria under former President Muhammadu Buhari experienced a series of military air crashes.

    Data garnered from media reports in the last seven years shows that the incidents resulted in the loss of 14 aircraft and claimed the lives of 35 people, including civilians and military personnel.

    The report noted that the crashes also imposed significant financial costs on the military and diminished the number of operational aircraft in its fleet.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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