An Algerian military helicopter crashed on Wednesday morning, December 16, in the Mediterranean, Algeria’s Ministry of National Defense announced.
The crash killed one lieutenant, Bouzayda Nouredine, and two other pilots remain missing. Search operations are ongoing to find and rescue the missing pilots.
The incident occurred at 11:25 a.m. GMT+1, approximately two nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) off the coast of Bouharoun. The town is located 50 kilometers west of the capital Algiers.
A video that bystanders recorded and Algerian television channel El Djazairia One shared shows the moment of the crash. The helicopter appears swirling out of control before crashing into the sea.
Other footage shows fishermen and divers looking for survivors under the helicopter’s remains.
According to the Algerian military, the helicopter was an MS-25 Merlin belonging to Algeria’s National Navy. The vehicle was specialized in search and rescue missions.
Some local reports suggest that the crashed helicopter was pursuing a mission to find a missing fishing boat. Algeria’s Ministry of National Defense, however, did not detail the helicopter’s intended operation.
Algerian army chief Said Chengriha ordered the launch of an investigation to determine the causes and circumstances of the incident.
Today’s incident brings to mind the April 2018 crash of a military plane near Algiers that killed 257 people. The plane came down right after taking off from the Boufarik military airport, 30 kilometers south of Algiers.
The crash is to date the worst air disaster that Algeria has witnessed.