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Serbian military helicopter carrying sick baby for hospital treatment crashes in thick fog killing all seven on board

The five-day old baby had been evacuated from the south of the country in an attempt to get it to a hospital in in Belgrade

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Sunday 15 March 2015 11:12 GMT
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The five-day-old baby was being taken to Belgrade for treatment when the helicopter crashed
The five-day-old baby was being taken to Belgrade for treatment when the helicopter crashed (Reuters )

Serbia is observing a national day of mourning today after a helicopter carrying a sick baby for treatment crashed in Belgrade, killing all seven on board.

The MI-17 military helicopter crashed late on Friday night near Belgrade’s international airport.

Floodlights at two of Belgrade’s biggest football stadiums had been lit to help the helicopter find a spot through the thick fog covering the area and make an emergency landing, as the vehicle was running out of fuel.

Two stadiums had lit their flood lights to help the helicopter land in the thick fog (Reuters)
The pieces of the crashed helicopter are cordoned off for investigation (EPA)
The defence minster said the pilots who died in the crash were 'the best' in the army (AP)
Military investigators seen near the site of a helicopter crash on the outskirts of Belgrade (AP)

Serbia’s defence ministry said all contact was lost with the helicopter at 10:31pm, and confirmed that the four crew members, two medical workers, and the five-day old baby had all died in the crash.

The baby on board had life-threatening respiratory problems and had been evacuated from the southern region of Raska by the helicopter on Friday, after an ambulance transporting the child to a hospital in Belgrade had become stuck by a landslide blocking the road.

An investigation into the crash has been launched, and footage shown on state TV showed the bulk of the helicopter’s fuselage had plunged into a muddy field, with debris spread around the scene.

The crash itself caused several commercial flights to be re-routed to other airports.

Serbia’s defence minister Bratislav Gasic said the helicopter was the only one in the military with advanced medevac equipment.

He called the pilots “the best” the army had, and prime minister Aleksander Vucic has offered his condolences to the families of the victims, calling for a national day of mourning on Sunday.

Additional reporting by agencies

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