U.S. military helicopter crash in South Korea kills two soldiers

SEOUL,  A U.S. Army helicopter crashed in South Korea late Monday during a routine training mission, and two pilots have been confirmed dead, according to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military officials in South Korea said the identities of the pilots who died during a AH-64 apache helicopter crash on Monday would not be released until relatives are notified. File Photo by Yonhap
U.S. military officials in South Korea said the identities of the pilots who died during a AH-64 apache helicopter crash on Monday would not be released until relatives are notified. File Photo by Yonhap

“We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families of the soldiers involved in this tragic incident,” Lt. Col. Mark Gillespie, the deputy commander of 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, told ABC News. “Our first priority is to provide their families with the support they need during this difficult time.”

The wrecked AH-64 Apache helicopter, scattered along a road in Wonju, South Korea, crashed at 6:20 p.m. and had taken off from Camp Humphreys near the city of Pyongtaek, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.

South Korean regional newspaper Kangwon Ilbo reported a local resident had heard a loud bang and called emergency dispatchers. The helicopter had crashed into an area 100 meters from a residential district, but there were no civilian casualties.

U.S. military officials said the identities of the pilots would not be released until their closest relatives are notified and said the chopper could have struck a high-voltage power line or a “steel tower,” according to Yonhap.

Wonju Fire Department rescuers were the first to arrive on the scene, and a contact at the department said they had discovered the two dead bodies inside the destroyed helicopter.

The AH-64 Apache is a formidable weapon with a laser rangefinder that can locate targets out to five miles and can carry up to 16 Hellfire laser-designated missiles.

Apache helicopters have previously crashed in South Korea in 2005 during a military exercise, and in Taiwan in 2014, when a chopper flew into an apartment building.

By Elizabeth Shim

UPI