The Nigerian military on Monday confirmed the crash of one of its helicopter in Damare, a suburb of Girei Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
The military spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, told PREMIUM TIMES, that a Nigerian Air force helicopter with call sign “Shark 23” on a training mission, executed a control force landing.
He said the force landing was made four minutes after take-off at the runway approach end of the Yola International Airport at 9.30 a.m.
“There is no casualty as all the crew members have been recovered back to base,” Mr. Olukolade, a Major General said. “The Nigerian Air force Headquarters have already set up an investigative panel to unravel the circumstances leading to the incident.”
Sources at the scene of the incident told PREMIUM TIMES five American soldiers were aboard the helicopter. The military said it had no information about any American in the crashed aircraft.
The sources said the aircraft – an American helicopter – was carrying some arms to be used in the counter insurgency operation.
A witness, Baba-Bale Habu, said he was outside his house when he heard a loud sound.
“Before then, I saw this helicopter moving like there is problem; I did not get close but when one of the occupants of the plane, a white man dressed in Army uniform came and requested for help. I called some people who were around and we helped to bring the others,” Mr. Habu said.
Mr. Habu said the soldiers sustained some injuries and were taken away from the scene of the incident in his car before an ambulance arrived and took them away.
“I saw some other helicopters coming to pick some things they did not allow us to get closer again, there was no death as at the time we assisted them to bring the other victims out,” he said.
When asked on the nationality of the crew members as narrated by the witnesses, Mr. Olukolade said that would be unravelled by investigations.
However, a spokesperson for the United States Embassy, Sani Mohammed, told PREMIUM TIMES he did not have information on the crashed helicopter.
“We have no information at the moment, once we get any information, we will pass it to you,” Mr. Mohammed said.
News of the helicopter crash came about two months after a Nigerian Air Force fighter jet, went missing during routine operations in the northern part of Adamawa State on September 12.
The aircraft, an Alpha Jet (NAF 466) was involved in the counter insurgency operation against the extremist Boko Haram sect.
The whereabouts of the missing Alpha Jet had become a subject of conjectures following the inability of the Nigeria Air Force to tell Nigerians what actually happened to the fighter jet.
Boko Haram insurgents later claimed shooting the aircraft down in a video in which they appeared to slaughter one of the pilots of the missing jet.
But last week, local fishermen claimed they found wreckages of the jet in the River Benue.
The fishermen said they found the aircraft at Kwa Ine Village, Demsa Local Government, about 50 kilometers away from Yola, the Adamawa state capital.