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CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter
  CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter
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Eight British and four American soldiers have been killed after a US Marine helicopter crashed in Kuwait.

They were on board the CH-46 Sea Knight aircraft as part of the invading force of allied troops involved in seizing oilfields on the Al Faw peninsula in southern Iraq.

Lt Col Ben Curry, a Royal Marines spokesman in Kuwait, said: "Regrettably, during the deployment phase, a US helicopter crashed.

"There were eight UK servicemen from 3 Commando Brigade and four US air crew. None survived the crash."

Noble cause

In the House of Commons, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "A recovery team is at the site of the crash. Our urgent priority is to confirm the identities of those who died and notify the next of kin at the earliest opportunity.

"The cause of the incident is being investigated but I can assure the House that it was not the result of enemy action."

Shadow Defence Secretary Bernard Jenkin said that British personnel who died did so "for a noble cause".

Their deaths should strengthen the country's resolve to disarm Saddam, he added. 

The accident happened at 12.37am UK time, nine miles south of the Iraqi border.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, US officials said, adding that hostile fire had not been reported in the area.


Sky's David Bowden, with 3 Commando, said: "Lots of people are hurting quite badly here...but they have achieved their objective, they have got Al Faw."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said "my personal, and the British Government's condolences to the family and loved ones of the service personnel who perished in the helicopter accident".

Speaking in Brussels, he added: "This is an illustration of the risks which our very brave young men and women face when going into active service."

Earlier, two other US military helicopters made crash landings during operations along the Kuwait-Iraq border.

One was later destroyed by American warplanes to prevent it from falling into Iraqi hands, US Defence Department officials said.

Last Updated: 11:24 UK, Friday March 21, 2003
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