Rescuers retrieve bodies from crashed Spanish military helicopter

Spain's Defence Minister Pedro Morenes confirmed that the three soldiers who travelled aboard Spanish military helicopter crashed south of the Canary Islands last week have been found dead inside the damaged device.
Spain's Defence Minister Pedro Morenes confirmed that the three soldiers who travelled aboard Spanish military helicopter crashed south of the Canary Islands last week have been found dead inside the damaged device.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Rescue crews on Friday (Oct 30) retrieved the bodies of two of the three crew members who died when a Spanish military helicopter crashed in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, the defence ministry said.

"The continued effort by the Spanish navy divers throughout the day has allowed for the retrieval of two of the three deceased troops," the minister said in a Twitter message.

"The lack of light as night arrived prevents the work from continuing. The work will resume in the early morning."

The helicopter went down on Oct 22, about 280 nautical miles (520 kilometres) from an air base on Gando, its destination on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, off the coast of Morocco.

It had set off from Mauritania after refuelling following two weeks of military exercises in Senegal.

Spain's defence ministry said at the time that Morocco had said the crew members had been rescued by a fishing vessel which was taking them to Dakhla, a town in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara.

But the following day Spanish Defence Minister Pedro Morenes said the information provided by the Moroccan authorities turned out to be wrong and rescuers resumed the search.

Spanish searchers spent days searching until they located the submerged cabin of the helicopter on Thursday with the dead crew members inside.

Morones met with relatives of the deceased again on Friday to inform them of the latest developments, the defence ministry said.

The ministry has not said what may have caused the helicopter to go down.