PHETCHABURI, July 24 – Three soldiers were killed and the other was wounded in the third helicopter crash in Phetchaburi’s Kaengkrachan district.
Two pilots, Major Theerarat Kaewkramol, First Lieutenant Purana Wangjai and one mechanic Sergeant Major 1st Class Wichien Chantapat were killed and Sergeant Pattanaporn Tonchan, the other mechanic, was wounded and rushed to hospital. It is believed that this accident may have been caused by malfunctioned engine. This is the third helicopter crash in nine days, raising the death toll from the three incidents to 17.
The Bell 212 helicopter from the Hua Hin Wing was flying on a mission to support operations to retrieve the bodies of an earlier Black Hawk crash when it lost balance, caught fire and fell onto a paddy field in Kaengkrachan district on Sunday morning, according to witnesses.
The Black Hawk helicopter crashed on Tuesday inside Myanmar, just opposite Phetchaburi, during a mission to retrieve the bodies of five soldiers killed in an earlier Huey helicopter crash on July 16. The Black Hawk wreckage was found some 200 metres away from the first helicopter crash site.
Two of nine victims killed in Black Hawk helicopter crashes in Phetchaburi province have already been taken to Surasee 9th Infantry Division on Saturday pending recovery of the remaining victims before transferring all of them to Wat Thung La Ya for funeral rites.
Commander of Surasee 9th Infantry Division Maj Gen Tawan Ruangsri, and cameraman of the army television channel TV5 Sornwichai Kongtannukul were the only two bodies that were successfully retrieved from the forest on Saturday, while the transfer of the remaining seven bodies was underway but facing difficulties from inclement weather and challenging topography of the crash site, which is located in a steep valley.
The initial Huey helicopter crashed when it was on a rescue mission to airlift a group of rangers, journalists and suspected forest encroachers out of the forest in Kaeng Krajan National Park where they had been stranded for five days.
Foul weather condition was blamed for both previous crashes.