US chopper on relief operation crashes in Aceh

Associated Press

Banda Aceh, January 10:

A US helicopter with 10 people on board crashed as it was trying to land at the Banda Aceh airport today while on a tsunami-relief operation, injuring at least two US servicemen, a US military spokesman said. The injured men, along with eight other Navy personnel, were being flown back to their ship in the Lincoln battle group, said Capt Joe Plenzler, a US military spokesman in Medan, 400 km southeast of Banda Aceh.

The US military suspended helicopter flights for about two hours after the crash.

The SH60 helicopter crashed in a rice paddy about 500 metres from the airport in Banda Aceh, the main city on Indonesia’s tsunami-battered Sumatra island, as it was trying to land, he said. US authorities said there was no indication the helicopter had been shot down.

Meanwhile, Malaysia will set up a tsunami warning system around its coast this year and plant mangrove trees — natural shock absorbers against destructive waves — officials said today.