Officials: 8 Observers, Including 6 Americans, Killed in Sinai Helicopter Crash

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A Black Hawk helicopter used by the Multinational Force and Observers is unloaded in the Sinai in 2014.
U.S. Army soldiers deployed to Egypt with Task Force Sinai work alongside members of the Air Force to unload a UH-60 Black Hawk from the belly of a C-17 Globemaster III on Nov. 21, 2014, during a mission in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The helicopter serves as a vital lifeline for observing peace for the soldiers of Task Force Sinai and the Multinational Force and Observers. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)

JERUSALEM -- A helicopter belonging to an international peacekeeping force, the Multinational Force and Observers, crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, killing at least eight people, including several Americans, according to a statement from the MFO.

"During a routine mission in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, nine members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were involved in a helicopter crash. We are deeply saddened to report that eight uniformed MFO members were killed: six U.S. citizens, one French and one Czech. One U.S. MFO Member survived and was medically evacuated. Names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin," according to the statement.

"The MFO will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. At this point, there is no information to indicate the crash was anything except an accident," it adds.

Israeli and Egyptian officials agreed that the crash appeared to be an accident. They said one survivor was being airlifted to an Israeli hospital.

An Egyptian official said the UH-60 Black Hawk was on a reconnaissance mission and crashed near the island of Tiran.

The peacekeeping force flew the survivor into the resort of Eilat, Israel, from where he was then taken by an Israeli copter to a hospital further north.

Officials said the crash appeared to be caused by a technical failure and there were no signs of the aircraft being attacked. Islamic militant groups affiliated with the Islamic State group are known to be active in Sinai.

The helicopter belonged to the MFO, which is an international force that monitors the 40-year-old peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Thirteen countries contribute troops to the MFO, with the United States making up the largest contingent. Its responsibilities include monitoring troop levels along the border and ensuring the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.

Both the Israeli and the Egyptian official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the matter. Officials from the peacekeeping force had no immediate comment pending the outcome of an investigation.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with the MFO statement. It changes the number of casualties.

Associated Press writers Samy Magdy and Noha ElHennawy in Cairo contributed to this report.

This article was from The Canadian Press and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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