Search and rescue operation in process for search and rescue helicopter off Fuerteventura

Search and rescue operation in process for search and rescue helicopter off Fuerteventura

AS332 Super Puma helicopter. Photo: Ejército del aire.
AS332 Super Puma helicopter. Photo: Ejército del aire.

Update 26 April: The final two bodies have now been confirmed as the other missing crew, and with that, the four crew are confirmed dead in the accident. Defence minister Pedro Morenés will be in Gran Canaria tomorrow to attend the funeral that will be held for them. He will be accompanied by Air Force chief F. Javier García Arnaiz, the ministry has confirmed. The service will be held at the Gando Air Force Base at midday. The four are Capt Daniel Pena, Lieut Carmen Ortega, Lieut Sebastián Ruiz, and Sgt Carlos Caramanzana.

Update 22 April: The Ministry of Defence has said that a robot submarine has now recovered remains which almost certainly belong to the two missing crew from the helicopter. These have also been transferred to Gran Canaria for confirmation of identity and cause of death. Search teams continue to comb the surface area above the rescue site.

Update 21 April: Two bodies and a considerable part of the fuselage have been brought up to the surface today, says the Ministry of Defence, as it confirmed the depth at which they had settled as 2,363m. The Spanish navy is transferring the two crew to  Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Works will resume tomorrow to recover the other two bodies.

Update 20 April: The helicopter has now been located. The discovery was confirmed yesterday, the Ministry of Defence has said, and the families of the four crew inside have been informed. The ministry will now study the best way of recovering the bodies, and the helicopter itself which might be investigated to discover the cause of its crash.

Update 28 March: The director of Robótica Submarina Qstar ROV, José María Sepúlveda, has said on Canarian television that he believes the bodies have been found of the crew who died when the search and rescue helicopter fell into the sea on 19 March. Sr  Sepúlveda said that the four military officers are inside the vehicle at a depth of more than 2,000m. A specific craft such as was used when the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off Italy is now awaited which can confirm the positive localization made by acoustic waves.

Update 27 March: Canarian government representative María del Carmen Hernández Bento has said that the Ministry of Defence will provide all possible means to try to locate the bodies of the four military personnel presumed to have died in this helicopter tragedy. Sra Hernández Bento said that she fully understood the pain and impotence that the families of the missing men and women must feel, and that she hoped they would be able to find peace while the search continues. She said that it would be inconceivable to abandon attempts, given that the crew themselves were part of the very search and rescue unit trying to find them, and announced that a bathymetric study would be carried out by specialist international companies to try to find the remains of the helicopter, thought to be lying at a depth of around 3,000m.

Update 21 March: Once again the search has continued overnight with military night search capacity, rejoined this morning by the full complement of search teams.

Update 8pm: The crew, said to be highly experienced, has now been named as pilots Capt Daniel Pena, Lieut Sebastián Galván, and Lieut Carmen Ortega, and mechanics Sgt Carlos Caramanzan and Johnander Ojeda. All apart from Johnander were from the mainland. It is Johnander, from Gran Canaria, who was rescued last night. Of the others, sadly, there is no sign at present. Johnander, like the families of his fellow crew members, is said to be in a state of severe shock, and the ministry of defence, together with the Cruz Roja, has sent psychologists to try to help them.

Update 20 March: Search and rescue teams have worked through the night to try to locate the four missing crew but without success. As dawn broke, more resources were added and the search has intensified this morning. The helicopter ditched off the Jandía peninsula around 10pm last evening during routine practice exercises, on this occasion they were training using a winch.

All that has been found so far is a section of fuselage, and although there are some unconfirmed reports that the helicopter exploded before falling into the sea, the official stance is that no-one knows what happened yet and that an investigation is underway even as the search for survivors continues. The helicopter was from the Gando base in Gran Canaria, and is said to have been an AS 332 ‘Super Puma’, apparently generally known as a Eurocopter. The Ejército del Aire (Air Force) said that all these vehicles are constantly revised so as to be in a perfect state to fly.

Original post 19 March: A search and rescue helicopter is itself the object of a search and rescue mission tonight after falling into the sea some 30 miles south west of Fuerteventura. As of tonight, four crew are missing, with the fifth on board having already been rescued. The vehicle was on training manoeuvres rather than a rescue mission when it ditched. The search tonight involves a Guardia Civil patrol, a navy craft, another helicopter and two lifeboats. Hopefully there will be some good news by morning.

2 Comments

  1. Hope they are found safe – what a disaster for the training mission. best wishes to them and their families.

  2. First I heard about this – hopeful that there is some good news for those involved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *