OTTAWA: One body has been recovered and five people are missing after a Canadian military helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Greece on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
The HMCS Fredericton, participating in NATO’s Operation Reassurance meant to bolster security in Central and Eastern Europe, lost contact with a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on Wednesday.
“They are all heroes,” Trudeau said in a news conference.
“The cause of this accident is unknown at this time,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said, adding that the aircraft’s data and voice recorders have been recovered.
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Abbigail Cowbrough’s body was recovered, said General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.
Tanya Cowbrough, the mother of Abbigail, commented on Facebook: “Nothing can replace her.”
“I am broken and gutted,” Shane Cowbrough, Abbigail’s father, wrote on Facebook. “There are no words. You made me forever proud. I will love you always, and miss you in every moment. You are the bright light in my life taken far too soon.”
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It could be the country’s single deadliest military tragedy in 13 years. In July 2007, six soldiers were killed together by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
After the crash, Canada’s military has decided to temporarily ground its Cyclone helicopters, the CBC reported.
Approximately 2,100 Canadian Armed Forces members are deployed around the world.