Helicopter crash: four US Air Force crew killed in Norfolk

Police investigating if ammunition carried on board the aircraft poses any risk to the public

LAST UPDATED AT 08:38 ON Wed 8 Jan 2014

FOUR people were killed when a US military helicopter crashed on the east coast of England during a training exercise yesterday evening. 

The aircraft was flying from a US airbase at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk and had been taking part in a low-level flying exercise when it came down in marshland near the Norfolk village of Cley-next-the-Sea. A Pentagon official in Washington confirmed that the four crew members were presumed dead.

The aircraft was carrying ammunition at the time of the crash, and police are investigating if it poses any risk to the public. A 400m area was cordoned off by police following the incident, which happened around 7pm, and members of the public were told to stay away.

Sue McKnespiey, who runs Cookies crab shop in the nearby village of Salthouse and lives near the crash site, told the Norwich Evening News: "We heard the helicopter come over very fast and very low. I don't know about engines, but I am used to the sound of helicopters, and this sounded very heavy and very unusual.

"My gut instinct was there was something wrong. We've now heard four people have died and it's just awful."

The incident involved a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, a derivative of the better-known Black Hawk aircraft, which is primarily used to transport special forces. The 64ft-long aircraft can travel at speeds of up to 184mph (159 knots) and usually carries a crew of two pilots, one flight engineer and a gunner.

An investigation into the crash is expected to take a number of days to complete due to the geography and the munitions on board, says The Guardian. The US Air Force will be involved in the inquiry.

A second helicopter from RAF Lakenheath was also in the area at the time of the crash and set down on the marshes to try to assist. It remains at the scene while the investigation continues. Details of the four crew members will not be released until next of kin have been informed. · 

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