RMAF chopper crashes into school building, 19 injured

Firemen and other security agencies personnel assisting and investigating at the chopper crash scene.

Firemen and other security agencies personnel assisting and investigating at the chopper crash scene.

TAWAU: Nineteen people, comprising 14 crew members of a helicopter and five students, were injured to varying degree while some students suffered trauma after a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Nuri helicopter crashed into a school building while attempting to make an emergency landing during a routine monthly training flight.

The crash incident happened at about 8.53am in the compound of SMK Balung while lessons were going on.

All school activities were immediately stopped following the incident. No death has been reported so far.

Tawau police chief ACP Fadil Marsus said the helicopter pilot, who was pinned inside the wreckage, was sent to Tawau Hospital.

He was believed to have sustained serious injuries along with 13 other crew members.

Fadil said the school has been temporarily declared a restricted/secure area until further notice for investigation to be carried out and all students and teachers have been directed to vacate the school immediately. Police will be updating the status of the injured persons from time to time.

“The Nuri helicopter was believed to have been equipped with weapons while conducting its routine monthly training flight, but this is still being investigated. A mobile police station has been set up at the school,” he added.

According to the RMAF, the Nuri helicopter, with 14 passengers, took off from its base at 7.35am for a regular training flight.

A RMAF rescue team has been sent to the scene of the incident and had taken control of the area before bringing the helicopter out. They would also be making an assessment of the incident before taking further action.

It was learnt that the helicopter had crashed on a section of the school building and canteen.

Meanwhile, Tawau Fire and Rescue Department acting chief, Faisal Ahmad disclosed that they received a call from Captain

Mohd Affendi at 9.05am and despatched three fire engines and three utility vehicles with 18 firemen to the scene.

“We arrived at the scene at 9.38am and had the situation under control with all the injured persons moved out from the red zone. The estimated loss from the incident is still being ascertained,” he said.

Following the incident, all students, teachers and supporting staff of the school were directed to assemble at the school pavilion (astaka) near a field for safety reasons and were not allowed to be interviewed.

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