5 dead in Guyanase military helicopter crash near Venezuela
Five of seven Guyanese soldiers who were onboard a helicopter that crashed near the border with Venezuela are confirmed dead, the Guyana Defense Force said Thursday, Azernews reports, citing Anadolu Agency.
The other two soldiers appear to have survived the accident that occurred Wednesday when they were traveling to visit troops near Venezuela.
Search teams have reported “positive signs of life at the scene,” according to a statement from the GDF.
Troops and rescue teams, including doctors, were deployed but weather conditions prevented them from reaching the scene of the accident until 2 p.m. Thursday. The cause of the accident has not been determined.
Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said, “The magnitude of this loss is immeasurable” for the country and for the Guyana Defense Force.
“My heart aches and drowns with sadness at the tragic loss of some of our best men in uniform,” he said in a statement.
Guyanese authorities said they had "no information” to suggest that Venezuela was involved in the helicopter’s disappearance. But the incident adds tensions to a territorial dispute between the two countries concerning the mineral- and oil-rich Essequibo region that both claim as theirs.
While Guyana said its border with Venezuela was fixed by an arbitration tribunal in 1899, Venezuela said the Essequibo River forms a natural frontier recognized at the time of independence from Spain.
The US State Department said that in talks with Ali late Wednesday, Washington reaffirmed its unwavering support for Guyana's sovereignty.
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