- POSTED: 09 Jan 2014 23:43
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The bodies of four members of the US Air Force whose helicopter crashed while training in eastern England were recovered from marshland on Thursday, police said.
LONDON: The bodies of four members of the US Air Force whose helicopter crashed while training in eastern England were recovered from marshland on Thursday, police said.
Their bodies were taken to a nearby hospital by private ambulance for a post-mortem examination, Norfolk police said.
It will take many more weeks to recover all the parts of the destroyed chopper from an area the size of a football pitch, and a security cordon will remain in place during that time.
Police have said there was no evidence that the crash, which happened on Tuesday, was due to criminal activity. The investigation has been handed over to the USAF with Britain's Ministry of Defence.
US Captains Christopher S. Stover and Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews and female Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce died when their Pave Hawk came down near the Norfolk village of Cley-next-the-Sea.
The helicopter was carrying live ammunition and bullets that were strewn around the crash site, but local police chief Bob Sully said there was no immediate threat to the public as long as people respected the cordon.
Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said it was "still too early to speculate" on the cause of the crash.
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of these great airmen. They have made the ultimate sacrifice while training to save the lives of others," he told reporters at the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Lakenheath, where the Wing is based.
He said there were no plans to fly the other four Pave Hawk helicopters at the base for the rest of the week, to give the crew and their families time to come to terms with the incident.
"This has obviously been a very traumatic incident for an entire Liberty Wing family," he said.
All those killed were "experienced airmen", he said, adding that Stover and Ruane had piloted the helicopter and Mathews and Ponce were special mission aviators.
Pave Hawks are often used to retrieve downed aircrew in hostile environments and are being used to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.