Táchira helicopter crash
Táchira in Venezuela
|Date||3 May 2009|
|Site||El Alto de Rubio, Táchira, Venezuela
|Aircraft type||Mil Mi-35|
|Operator||Army of Venezuela|
The Táchira helicopter crash was the loss of a Venezuela Army helicopter and its 18 occupants on 3 May 2009. The helicopter crashed at around midday local time (16.30 UTC) near El Alto de Rubio in the north-western state of Táchira in Venezuela. All eighteen people aboard the aircraft were killed. The dead included Brigadier-General Domingo Faneite, two army pilots, fourteen other army personnel and one civilian, named as Cristian Velazquez. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is a retired army Lieutenant-Colonel, announced the incident in his weekly television broadcast and said "I pay tribute to these soldiers of the homeland, especially Gen Faneite, who was my cadet".
The cause of the crash is not yet known and an investigation is underway. It is known that the area was subject to adverse weather conditions prior to the crash. The aircraft involved was a Russian Mil Mi-35, although some news sources reported it erroneously as a Mil Mi-17.
The crash occurred just days after Colombian President Álvaro Uribe asked for Venezuelan assistance in eliminating FARC guerillas on the Venezuelan side of the border. It is not yet known if the crash is linked to intensified Venezuelan military operations against the guerillas. The United States Department of State's annual assessment of terrorism also recently criticised Venezuela for failing to police the border and stated that Colombian rebels and paramilitaries "regularly crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup as well as to extort protection money".
- "Venezuela army helicopter crashes". BBC. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- "Helicopter crash kills 18 soldiers in Venezuela". Associated press. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- "World Briefing". Los Angeles Times. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009.[dead link]
- "Chopper down in Venezuela's borderlands". Press TV. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- "A military Mi-35 went down near the Colombian border". Avionews. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
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