site.btaUPDATED Missing Helicopter, Dead Pilot's Body Found in SW Bulgaria
The helicopter, which was reported missing earlier on Friday, was found with the dead pilot's body in a remote ravine a couple of kilometres from the village of Garmen (Southwest Bulgaria), the Interior Ministry said Friday evening. A medical team is headed towards the scene.
A search and rescue was launched earlier in the day after connection was lost with the pilot, the involved institutions told BTA.
Connection was lost with the civil aviation helicopter used to spray against pests, the Southwest State Enteprise (SWSE) Blagoevgrad told BTA, explaining that this is a private helicopter hired by SWSE to spray against pine processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa).
The helicopter and pilot's body were found Friday evening in a 50-metres deep ravine, the Mayor of the nearby village of Gorno Dryanovo, Ibrahim Pingov, told BTA. He was the leader of the volunteer formation that joined the search efforts. Five volunteers have reached the crash site, said Pingov, who was among them, explaining that the terrain is very difficult. Over 20 firefighters and mountain rescue teams have started seaching for the aircraft in the afternoon because they did not get information from the helicopter's GPS about its location earlier, Pingov said.
The National Board for Aircraft, Maritime and Railway Accident Investigation told BTA that the aircraft took off at 07:30 in the morning and the connection with it was lost.
A military Cougar helicopter was also dispatched to search for the private helicopter, reported missing near Garmen, the Defence Ministry said. The Cougar took off at 2:01 pm from the Krumovo airbase. The Airforce personnel joined the search operation as part of the national aviation accidents search and rescue plan. The request came from the Civil Aviation Administration Directorate General's search and rescue coordination centre, the Defence Ministry said.
The head of the Blagoevrad Fire Safety and Civil Protection Regional Directorate, Commissioner Valentin Vassilev, also told BTA that a search had been launched for the aircraft after connection was lost.
The SWSE said that the helicopter landed in the village of Satovcha on September 18 and sprayed pesticides around Satovcha and Garmen the following day. On September 20, the aircraft sprayed near the village of Gega, after which it landed in Garmen, where the pilots spent the night in SWSE's building. The aircraft took off on Friday morning at around 7:30 am to return to its base in the southern city of Plovdiv. A few hours later the connection with the pilot was lost, SWSE said, adding that the helicopter was supposed to land in the southern village of Tsalapitsa.