Helicopter crash kills seven in Istanbul
AA photoSeven people were killed on March 10 when a civilian helicopter owned by a private company that was carrying business executives crashed in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has said.
Speaking at an opening ceremony in the Eyüp district, Topbaş said seven people were killed in the crash and extended his condolences to the victims.
Earlier, Istanbul Governor Şahin told reporters at the scene that the helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76 model belonging to the Eczacıbaşı Aviation Company, took off from Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport at 11:16 a.m. and crashed onto the motorway around five minutes later.
Şahin said the cause of the crash was unknown, while adding that an investigation on the scene was continuing into the accident.
“Our friends are working on the incident. Our chief prosecutor and other friends at the chief prosecutor’s office and accident investigation team are making the necessary examinations. We will make a more accurate statement according to the results and technical reports obtained in the aftermath of the examinations,” he said.
Early witness accounts suggested that the helicopter hit the top antenna of a 257-meter-high TV tower near the scene.
There was also speculating that foggy weather may have played a role in the crash, but the Transportation, Marine and Communications Ministry later said in a statement that weather conditions were normal at the time of takeoff but that the helicopter subsequently crashed into the TV tower.
Eczacıbaşı Holding head Bülent Eczacıbaşı, who also arrived at the scene, said seven people, including four Russian citizens, were onboard the company’s helicopter which was heading to a facility belonging to the group in the Bozüyük district of the northwestern province of Bilecik.
“One of our managers, the representative of our managers in Russia, was also on board. There were also four Russian guests on board the helicopter whom we had invited to the UNICERA fair and, of course, two pilots,” Eczacıbaşı said.
Eczacıbaşı Holding later confirmed in a written statement that Eczacıbaşı Building Products Russia Country Director Salim Özen, Russia Regional Sales Manager Aleksandr Vanin, Russian guests Igor Kochergin, Luidmila Chuprova, Elena Badragan, as well as Turkish pilots Alaattin Nacar and Ahmet Bulut were onboard the crashed helicopter.
The Eczacıbaşı Group also darkened its website following the crash, while extending its condolences to the victims.
Asked about the possibility that the helicopter crashed due to foggy weather, Eczacıbaşı said it was a fully-equipped helicopter and that routine checks had previously been conducted.
The road where the helicopter crashed was largely deserted at the time and no one on the ground was hurt. The D-100 highway was closed off to traffic following the crash but was opened in the evening hours.
Initial footages at the scene showed the helicopter in pieces and thick black smoke as rescue teams continued their search amid pieces of the helicopter scattered around the road.
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu extended his condolences to the victims on his Twitter account.