A firefighter helicopter crashed into the sea off the island of Samos on Wednesday afternoon. Two crew members are missing. A large search and rescue operation is underway.
According to local media, an ER-MH4 helicopter crashed while trying to draw water from the sea. The helicopter participated in extinguishing a forest fire in the village of Paleochori, on an island in the eastern Aegean Sea.
It crashed about 300 meters west of Plaka beach, near Agios Minas. According to the fire department, this is a private helicopter hired to help put out the fire.
The state broadcaster ERT reports that there was a group of 3 foreigners in the helicopter – 1 from Romania, 2 from Moldova – and one Greek translator. The helicopter was rented in Ukraine.
Local media reports that strong winds of 6 to 7 on the Beaufort scale are blowing in the area.
The search and rescue operation involves aircraft, coast guard vessels and fishing vessels. ERT reported that two of the four missing were rescued. One of them is on board a Super Puma helicopter that took off from the neighboring islands of Chios to participate in a search and rescue operation, the second person is on board a coast guard ship.
According to local media, the first person was rescued by a fishing boat and then handed over to the Coast Guard. One of the rescued is the Romanian pilot of the crew, ANT1 reports.
According to official statement, the helicopter took off from Samos Airport to join the firefighting operation at 4:40 pm on Wednesday. The accident happened about an hour later.
The nationality of the second rescued is still unknown. The search for the other two missing persons continues.