A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the southern coast of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, killing six American soldiers.
Officials believe a mechanical failure caused the crash, Fox News reported. But they have launched an investigation.
Helicopter Crash Kills Eight Total
One American reportedly survived the crash. Two non-Americans also died. So that brings the total death toll to eight, per ABC News.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission said it has “no information to indicate the crash was anything except an accident.”
About 450 American troops serve in the region. They are part of a force of 1,154 international peacekeepers. The peacekeepers stay in the peninsula to enforce the 1978 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Moreover, the Pentagon recently questioned its role in the peacekeeping mission. But the Americans’ presence is necessary under the treaty, they ultimately concluded. The region has historically seen lots of division.
Multinational Force Releases Statement
Israeli and Egyptian officials told the Associated Press that the helicopter belonged to a multinational force, known as MFO. It monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace accord.
The helicopter crashed near the Red Sea. It had been conducting an aerial reconnaissance flight at the time of the crash. It landed on an island there, The Drive reported. Tiran Island became part of Saudi Arabia under a 2016 agreement between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But many Egyptians contested that agreement.
Meanwhile, MFO released a statement updating the death toll. They also believe a mechanical issue caused the crash.
“During a routine mission, nine uniformed members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were involved in a helicopter crash,” MFO said. They added that of the MFO members killed, “six U.S. citizens, one French, and one Czech. One U.S. MFO Member survived and was medically evacuated. [We are withholding] names pending notification of next of kin.”
Further, “we greatly appreciate the cooperation and support of Egypt and Israel,” MFO added.