Heli crash claims seven police officers

Friday, July 23, 2010
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Seven police officers have died in a horrific helicopter crash on a road 5km outside Witbank in Mpumalanga.

Captain Leonard Hlathi, spokesperson for Mpumalanga police, told BuaNews the helicopter, which crashed on Verena Road, was carrying seven members of the National Intervention Unit (NIU).

"They were en route to an armed robbery in Witbank which had already ensued. There was a shoot-out between the police and the thugs. The helicopter crashed and exploded," he said.

Hlathi said together with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) they were investigating the cause of the crash.

ER24 said paramedics were dispatched to the scene shortly before 9am. Upon arrival, they found that there had been a fire which had engulfed the four occupants. They were already dead and there was nothing that paramedics could do.

The local fire department and rescue services extinguished the flames