air accident

Search team finds remains of crashed rescue helicopter off Fuerteventura

Bodies of four crew members located inside cabin, which is 2,362 meters below the surface

One of the Air Rescue Squad's Super Puma helicopters.
One of the Air Rescue Squad's Super Puma helicopters.Ministry of Defense

A search team has located the remains of an emergency rescue helicopter that went down on March 19 off the coast of Fuerteventura during a practice exercise, the Defense Ministry announced on Monday.

The bodies of the four missing officers from the Air Rescue Squad (SAR) chopper were found inside the wreckage.

Using a special underwater robot vessel, called the EDT Ares, the search team was able to locate the helicopter 2,362 meters below the surface. The families of the crew have been notified about the discovery.

The helicopter had undergone an inspection five days before the incident and was “in perfect condition to fly”

The search with the EDT Ares began last Wednesday and was focused on the square mile around the Super Puma helicopter’s crash location, some 30 miles southeast of Fuerteventura’s Jandía peninsula. The cause of the accident has not been determined.

Officials are now working on recovering the four bodies, the ministry said.

According to defense officials, the chopper, which belonged to the 8020 squadron based in Gando, Gran Canaria, had undergone a thorough inspection five days before the incident and was “in perfect condition to fly.”

The aircraft was taking part in nighttime exercises for search-and-rescue missions when it lost contact with the navy’s Meteoro vessel, which was also participating in the drill. An immediate search of the area was conducted soon after but the helicopter was not located.

One crew member, Sergeant Johnander Ojeda, 26, was able to exit the helicopter and was rescued from the water by the Meteoro. He told authorities that the helicopter crashed into the ocean and sank immediately.

The victims were identified as Captain Daniel Pena Valiño, 36, of Vitoria; Lieutenant Carmen Ortega, 36, of Granada; Lieutenant Sebastián Ruiz, 30, of Cádiz; and mechanical Sergeant Carlos Caramanzana, 31, of Valladolid. All had between 800 and 1,400 hours of training.

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