Defence Ministry issues statement on Sri Lanka Air Force Helicopter Crash in Central Africa

Sri Lanka Air Force Helicopter Crash in Central Africa

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence strongly denied allegations that a group of Sri Lankans were taken hostage by the Al-Shabaab militant group after a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) helicopter crash-landed in Somalia.

The SLAF MI 17 helicopter (SMH 4417) was on a routine cargo flight during a United Nations Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic on January 12 crash-landed at Sam-Oundja  during the landing phase due to rotor brownout (RWB) resulting from extreme dusty and sand conditions.

At the time of the incident, five crew members and 1200 kg of cargo were on board. Two crew members sustained minor injuries.

The Ministry of Defence further emphasized that the above five-member crew and the helicopter are safe within the Sri Lankan Contingent in the Central African Republic.

The SLAF has appointed a panel of investigators to probe the crash of the helicopter and determine the precise cause and extent of the damage.

The Ministry of Defence urges the public not to be misled by false information. Furthermore, media personnel are informed to reach out to the Ministry for any clarification.