By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov have extended their condolences to Turkey over a deadly helicopter crash that killed at least 11 Turkish soldiers in the country's southeast.
In a letter to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Aliyev said: "I was deeply saddened by the news of the killing of Turkish servicemen as a result of a military helicopter crash."
In a letter of condolences to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of the General Staff General Yasar Güler posted on the ministry website on March 4, Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov said: "I am deeply shocked by the news about the death of high-ranking servicemen, in particular the Commander of the 8th Army Corps in Elazıg, Corps General Osman Erbash, and the injuries of servicemen as a result of the crash of a military helicopter of the Land Forces of fraternal Turkey in Bitlis, as well as the injuries of eleven servicemen as a result of overturning of a military vehicle in the Shirnak region."
Foreign Minister Bayramov said in a message posted on his official Twitter account on March 4: "We were very saddened by the news of the crash of a military helicopter on the territory of Bingol city in brotherly Turkey. Our condolences to family members and close relatives of the nine victims, as well as to the people of Turkey, and we wish healing to the wounded."
Turkey's National Defence Ministry reported that at least 11 Turkish soldiers, including a high-ranking commander, were killed and two others were injured in a military helicopter crash on March 4.
In a statement, the ministry said the Cougar helicopter took off from the eastern province of Bingol at 1:55 p.m. and was en route to Bitlis province’s Tatvan district when contact with the aircraft was lost at around 2:25 p.m.
“A search and rescue party consisting of a UAV, a CN-235 airoplane and a helicopter was dispatched immediately,” the statement said.
The ministry initially said nine soldiers on board the helicopter were killed in the crash, adding that four survivors were transferred to the hospital for treatment. Commander of the 8th Corps, Lieutenant General Osman Erbash was among the deceased. Hours after the crash, the death toll increased to 11 after two of the wounded soldiers died of received injuries.
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