5 die in Guyana Defence Force helicopter crash
News
December 8, 2023
5 die in Guyana Defence Force helicopter crash

Five members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) died earlier this week in a helicopter crash near the border with Venezuela.

On Wednesday, December 6, the helicopter carrying seven officers of the GDF was reported missing while on a mission to inspect troops guarding the border between the two territories in an area called Arau.

A search was launched but later called off due to poor weather conditions.

On Thursday, Search and Rescue teams headed back into the area and were able to identify the scene of the crash after the survivors were spotted signalling to the rescue teams.

It took over an hour to get the rescue teams into the heavily forested area as the stormy weather conditions affected

the repelling of the special forces personnel.

It was later confirmed that five perished when the helicopter crashed.

Those confirmed dead are Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, Col. Michael Shahoud; Veteran Pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Charles; Lt. Col. Sean Welcome; retired Brigadier Gary Beaton and Sgt. Jason Khan.

The survivors have been identified as pilot, Lt. Andio Crawford and Cpl. Dwayne Jackson.

Senior military officials reported to News Source that some of those who died were badly burnt, as the helicopter burst into flames on impact.

A cause of the tragedy is still to be determined but some authorities are claiming that poor weather could be to blame for the crash.

The GDF has set up a temporary emergency base at a mining location close to the crash site and the Government of Guyana has ordered that all national flags and institutional flags be flown at half mast until further notice.

In a statement of condolences, President Irfaan Ali said his heart pains and drowns in sorrow at the tragic loss of some of Guyana’s finest men in uniform.

The crash occurred during an escalating diplomatic row with Venezuela over the mineral-rich Essequibo region, which is located near massive oil deposits.