Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said a sailor was killed and five were missing after a navy helicopter crashed in the sea between Greece and Italy.
During a press conference, Trudeau said, “Yesterday, a Royal Canadian Navy helicopter on a NATO mission, carrying six members of the Canadian Armed Forces, went down with all hands in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece”.
“One casualty was recovered and five are missing”, the prime minister further added.
The Cyclone Sikorsky CH-148 helicopter was returning to HMCS Fredericton after a training mission when contact was lost, the chief of the defense staff, General Jon Vance said.
According to the Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, cause of the crash was “unknown,” but that an automatic beacon was discovered in the waters, and the helicopter’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders had been recovered.
More than 900 Canadian soldiers are deployed throughout Eastern Europe as part of Operation Reassurance — Canada’s largest current international military deployment.
Vance said a “very sizeable debris field” has been found and that a search continues in the 3,000-feet deep sea.
HMCS Fredericton was scheduled to return to its home port of Halifax, Canada in July.
During the crash investigation and “to rule out that there’s a fleet-wide problem,” all of the Canadian military’s relatively new Cyclone helicopters would be grounded temporarily, Vance said.
PM Trudeau acknowledged that today is another “very hard day” for Nova Scotia — still grieving the victims of a gun massacre — and for all Canadians.
Last year in November, at least seven people were killed after a small plane crashed in a wooded area on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
(With inputs from agency)