Pakistan helicopter crashes killing Norwegian, Philippine ambassadors

World Today

Pakistan Helicopter CrashIn this still image taken from video, a man watches smoke rising from an empty burning building, belonging to an army school, where a Pakistani army helicopter crashed in Nalter Valley, Gilgit, Pakistan, Friday, May 8, 2015. The ambassadors to Pakistan from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia were killed Friday when a Pakistani army helicopter carrying foreign dignitaries made a crash landing in the country’s north, the military said. (AP Photo)

Pakistan’s foreign secretary on Friday said a military helicopter carrying diplomats to inspect a tourism project crashed earlier in the day because of a technical fault.

Seven people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines and the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, were killed in the crash.

“This was totally accidental and happened because of technical reasons. From all the information we have received so far, it appears to have been a technical fault. We will get a clearer picture as we receive more information, but so far we are being told that it happened due to technical fault,” Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told Pakistan Television (PTV).

Earlier, the Pakistani Taliban had claimed they shot down the aircraft but witnesses on the ground, and in other helicopters on the trip, reported nothing to indicate any firing.

Norwegian Ambassador Leif Larsen, Philippine Ambassador Domingo Lucenario and the wives of the ambassadors of Malaysia and Indonesia were killed, along with two pilots and a crew member, military spokesman Asim Bajwa said in Twitter posts.

Malaysian state media identified the wife of the ambassador as Habibah Mahmud, while Indonesia said its ambassador Burhan Muhammad was injured and his wife, Heri Listyawati Burhan Muhammad, was killed.

Bajwa said the ambassadors of Poland and the Netherlands were among the injured.

The ambassadors of South Africa, Lebanon and Romania were also on board, according to a flight list obtained by Reuters.

The Romanian Foreign Ministry said its ambassador was alive and uninjured.

An official in Gilgit said nine people had been killed.

The Foreign Office said 17 people were on board the Mi-17 when it crashed into a school in Gilgit and caught fire.

Media said there were 11 foreigners and six Pakistanis.

Story compiled with information from Reuters and The Associated Press.