The Associated Press is reporting that a Russian made, Iraqi MI-17 helicopter has crashed near the Sinjar mountains while on a mission to provide humanitarian aid to the trapped Yazidi people who have been living on the barren peaks for the past few weeks.
The state run Iraqi TV has cited Iraqi military officials who have confirmed that the crash has indeed occurred. Preliminary reports say that the helicopter crash was caused by “a technical failure.” Confirmation of the helicopter crash has also come from the office of the Kurdish regional government’s prime minister. While technical failure is attributed to the helicopter crash, there are other reports saying that the crash happened after too many people attempted to board the helicopter as it took off.
— Mike Demarest (@Mike_Demarest) August 12, 2014
Unconfirmed reports also say that Iraqi Yazidi MP Vian Dakhil, famous for making an appeal for the trapped Yazidis, was also on board the helicopter.
— Yannis Koutsomitis (@YanniKouts) August 12, 2014
Meanwhile, the New York Times has confirmed that one of its employees was in the helicopter when it crashed. 56-year-old Alissa J. Rubin (@AlissaNYT), who is employed as the New York Times’ Paris bureau chief has reportedly survived the accident.
Alissa suffered a concussion and broken wrists. When contacted by phone, she was conscious and reported that her colleague, Adam Ferguson, 35, who is accompanying her as a freelance photographer working for the New York Times, escaped the helicopter crash unscathed. She added that the helicopter was returning after delivering emergency aid to the trapped Yazidis. They had also picked up a few evacuees.
Survivors from the helicopter crash were rescued by two other helicopters and were later transported to Dohuk, a city 20 miles away from Erbil which is the regional capital of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
Kurdish officials have also reiterated that the helicopter crash occurred in an area where there was no presence of the Sunni ISIS extremists, and that everyone has been evacuated from the area.
As earlier reported by The Inquisitr, over 40,000 Yazidis were trapped and stranded atop various mountain tops in northern Iraq after their hometowns were invaded by rampaging extremist ISIS militants. Following the grave humanitarian crisis faced by the Yazidis, the U.S. has ordered targeted aerial strikes and humanitarian aid to help the trapped Yazidis. This helicopter crash could no’t have come at a worse time for them.
[Images Via BBC News]