22 April 2014

Liberia: UN Chopper Goes Down, Pilot, Crew Member Hurt

Photo: http://www.liberianobserver.com
UNMIL peacekeepers(file photo)

Augustine Seweh is thanking is lucky stars after surviving a near-fatal helicopter crash shortly before midday Tuesday, in the Sugar Beach Community off the Robertsfield Highway. The RA 22426 United Nations Helicopter carrying nine passengers, mostly health workers and four crew members was forced to land shortly after takeoff.

Eyewitnesses say none of the passengers suffered major injuries, but a FrontPageAFrica reporter on the scene says the head pilot was taken by ambulance after reportedly sustaining a major injury while a crew member was seen with a deep wound on his head. The plane also destroyed an unfinished building and a zinc house. The right tire of the chopper broke and the front of the chopper was damaged.

Seweh says he was on his way to River Gee. “I was leaving from Spriggs Payne to River Gee, Fish Town. I work with the Ministry of Health. I was on duty and was going back on duty. I am not an engineer or a pilot, but just as we were coming, there was a changing sound of the helicopter and we just saw ourselves on the ground, no accident.

He explained that the pilot opened the door and spoke to the chopper conductor and passengers knew something was not right. “We saw the feature of the conductor change and we knew straight that things were not right. And we saw the helicopter just going from one side to the next.”

According to Seweh, the passengers noticed trouble shortly before takeoff. “The pilot started the warm the engine from around 11: 30 all the way to 11:50am before we pick up. We went up twice and we came back down and things were not just fine.”

The chopper crash comes more than a year after a plane carrying a military delegation from Guinea to an Armed Forces Day Celebration in Liberia crashed in Liberia, killing the Army Chief of Staff and at least nine other people.

For Seweh, escaping what could have been a major tragedy is an experience he will never forget. “I hope to be in a congregation Sunday coming to tell about the wonders of god.” The United Nations Mission in Liberia is expected to issue a statement later today on why the chopper went down.

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