Thai military helicopter crashes near Myanmar border, 9 missing

July 19th, 2011 - 8:58 pm ICT by BNO News  

BANGKOK, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) — A Thai military helicopter has been reported missing on Tuesday and is believed to have crashed near the Myanmar border with nine people on board, officials said.

Thailand’s army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd confirmed the incident, adding that the helicopter was conducting a search and rescue mission to retrieve the five bodies involved in another helicopter crash in the Kaeng Krachan National Park located in the district of Suan Phung, Phetchaburi Province last Saturday, the Bangkok Post reported.

A team of nine people took off from an air base in the district of Kaeng Krachan on Tuesday morning at around 11:30 a.m. local time, but weather in the valley suddenly worsened. Two other helicopters - one from the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry and another from the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry - that were part of the rescue mission decided to turn back due to the weather conditions and landed at a nearby zone in the national park.

The three helicopters were approaching the landing zone where they were to pick up the five bodies, but only the military Black Hawk chopper decided to carry on with the mission, as dark clouds and rainfall began covering the area.

At around 11:55 a.m. local time, radio contact with the Black Hawk helicopter was lost, while a radio center at Ton Nam Phet reported that a loud explosion had been heard from an area near Saturday’s helicopter crash.

The fate of the passengers remains unknown, while the reason of the incident also remains uncertain.

On board were Major General Tawan Ruangsri, the 9th Infantry Division chief and commander of the Surasee Task Force, Major Prapan Jiamsoongnoen, the 1st pilot, Major Chuphan Polwan, the 2nd pilot, Sargent Major Somkid Wongtoksaeng, the senior flight mechanic, Sargent Aram Wongsing, the second mechanic, Captain Jate Sudchai, Captain Chakraphan Bamrungphuet, Lance Corporal Itthisak Hinasuthi, and Sornwichai Kongtannukul, a TV Channel 5 cameraman.

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