Crashed Air Force helicopter: Nigerian military says missing solider found alive

The military has retracted its statements twice.

The Nigerian Military on Wednesday said the soldier earlier declared missing after an Air Force helicopter crashed in Borno State, has been found alive.

The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Mi-35 helicopter, said to have been on a training mission, crashed Monday afternoon at a location south of Bama, an area ravaged by Boko Haram insurgents.

Shortly after the incident, the military, through its spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, said all the occupants of the ill-fated helicopter died.

However, in a statement later on Wednesday, Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, said one of the pilots was recovered alive while the second, as well as the technician, on board the 3-member crew flight died.

In the second statement, Mr. Olukolade retracted, saying that only one body had been found.

“The body of the technician who is the third member of the crew is yet to be located. He is therefore declared Missing in Action until found,” Mr. Olukolade had said.

He also said the crash was as a result of some technical fault and not an attack by an enemy, adding that rescue mission was ongoing.

But while giving update on the rescue efforts, Mr. Olukolade made a u-turn to an earlier statement in which an engineer crew on the ill-fated flight was declared missing.

A recent statement signed by Mr. Olukolade stated, “The Engineer crew member of the crashed Nigerian Air Force Mi-35 Helicopter earlier declared missing has been found alive.

“The crew member who was declared missing when his body could not be located in the vicinity of the crash resurfaced at the military Headquarters in Maiduguri today, having trekked through the bushes after the crash.”

The statement further confirmed that the co-pilot, Flight Lieutenant NM Halilu, and the aircraft technician, Warrant Officer Augustine Nwanonenyi, survived the crash while Flight Lieutenant Onyeka Nwakile was lost in the crash.

Mr. Olukolade indicated that the family of the dead officer has been duly informed while the two survivors receiving medical attention; are in stable condition.

“Search and rescue operation on the incident has been concluded, while investigation into the crash continues,” Mr. Olukolade stated.

Bama is one of the locations in Borno state where the extremist Boko Haram sect has intensified its terrorist activities.

The sect has killed more than 12,000 people since it began a bloody insurgency in 2009.

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