US confirms Djibouti crash deaths

The US military has confirmed that 10 US troops died in the crash of two transport helicopters off the coast of northern Djibouti.

    Two helicopters crashed off the coast of northern Djibouti

    In a statement on Sunday, the US-led Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa said: "Next-of-kin notifications have been made to all family members of the deceased; however, names are being withheld in deference to family members' privacy."


    The remains of the eight US marines and two Air Force airmen were transported to the United States on Sunday morning, said Major Susan Romano, the task force spokeswoman.


    Two CH-53E helicopters were carrying 12 crew and troops when they crashed in the Gulf of Aden, near the northern coastal town of Ras Siyyan.


    The troops were members of a US counterterrorism force deployed in the Horn of Africa nation.


    Two crew members were rescued on Friday by Djiboutian troops who witnessed the crash. Officials declined to disclose the condition of the troops.


    Major-General Timothy Ghormley, task force commander, paid his condolences to the families of the deceased.


    He said: "We mourn their loss and honour their memory."




    Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, Romano said.


    Visibility had been good at the time of the crash, with light winds, authorities said.


    The family of Susan Craig, a marine pilot, said she was one of those rescued.


    The task force was set up in
    Djibouti in June 2002

    Craig, 28, telephoned her parents, Pat and Lewis Sackett, on Saturday afternoon, her mother said in an interview with a local newspaper.


    Pat Sackett said her daughter was rescued by Djiboutian military personnel and was unaware what caused the crash.


    The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, set up in the former French colony in June 2002, is responsible for nine countries in the region: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia in Africa and Yemen on the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.


    The region has suffered four attacks either claimed by or attributed to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.  

    SOURCE: Agencies


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