Six Americans have been killed in a military helicopter crash in Egypt, according to CBS News. The crash took place in the southern Sinai Peninsula, in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh. Two other non-U.S. members of the peacekeeping force were also killed, one French and one Czech national. One American is said to have survived the crash, but it is unclear if there are any other survivors.
Those onboard the aircraft were members of the Multinational Force and Observers, an international force that monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement. The names of the individuals involved in the crash are being shared at this time, as their next of kin must first be notified. "The MFO will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident," the force said in a statement. "We greatly appreciate the cooperation and support of Egypt and Israel in the recovery effort."
DEVELOPING: A helicopter crash in Egypt's Sinai desert involving multi-national observer force kills seven people, including five Americans, one French and one Czech citizen - AFP pic.twitter.com/sjfaGDWDT1— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) November 12, 2020
The MFO also stated that the crash took place during a routine mission but did not give an exact location for the incident. An Egyptian official who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity — per regulations — stated that the crash happened over Red Sea waters outside Egyptian territorial boundaries. Prior to the news that the crash was an MFO team, Egyptian officials reportedly believed the aircraft that crashed was a UH-60 Black Hawk.
At this point, there is no reason to believe the crash is related to any kind of terrorism or attack, though there are Islamic militant groups and a regional affiliate of the Islamic State group known to be active in the area of the crash. "The MFO will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident," the MFO stated. "We greatly appreciate the cooperation and support of Egypt and Israel in the recovery effort."
The MFO consists of more than 1,000 military personnel from 13 countries. Among its many responsibilities, the MFO monitors troop levels along the border, as well as ensures freedom and safe navigation through the Strait of Tiran. The largest number of MFO personnel come from the United States, Colombia, Fiji and France. There are over 450 Americans in the MFO. Many of them are in leadership positions.