A military helicopter crashed in eastern Turkey on March 4, killing 11 soldiers and injuring two others.
The Defense Ministry initially put the death toll at nine, but later revised it to 11, saying two soldiers had succumbed to their wounds.
The ministry said that the Cougar-type helicopter had taken off from the province of Bingöl at 1:55 p.m. and was en route to the district of Tatvan in Bitlis when it crashed.
It said that search operations were launched following the loss of contact with the helicopter at 2:25 p.m.
The ministry described the crash as accidental, but did not elaborate. The four injured soldiers were being taken to hospital, it added.
Tatvan’da kaza kırıma uğrayan helikopterdeki kahraman silah arkadaşımızdan biri daha kurtarılamayarak şehit olmuştur. Şehit sayımız 11’e yükselmiştir. Kahraman şehitlerimize Allah’tan rahmet, değerli ailelerine başsağlığı diliyoruz. Asil milletimizin başı sağ olsun🇹🇷— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) March 4, 2021
Soldiers and health teams have been dispatched to the area to assist in search and rescue efforts.
Among the killed soldiers was Elazığ 8th Army Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Osman Erbaş, announced President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's chief of cabinet, Hasan Doğan, on Twitter.
Tatvan'da askeri helikopterimizin düşmesi sonucu şehit olan Korg. Osman Erbaş ve beraberindeki kahraman askerlerimize Cenab-ı Allah’tan rahmet, yakınlarına sabr-ı cemil, yaralılarımıza acil şifalar diliyoruz. pic.twitter.com/63qsK9OP3f— Hasan Doğan حسن (@hasandogan) March 4, 2021
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar along with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and Land Forces Commander Gen. Ümit Dündar visited the site of the crash.
Meanwhile, condolences poured in from the world for Turkey over the helicopter crash.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg phoned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to express his condolences and said the alliance stands in solidarity with Turkey, according to Turkish media outlets.
Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, has similarly offered his condolences over the helicopter crash, writing on Twitter: "We express our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and to Turkey."
U.S. Embassy in Ankara wrote on its Twitter account: "The Embassy of the United States offers its sincere condolences for the Turkish soldiers killed and wounded in the tragic helicopter crash in Bitlis. Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected, and we wish a rapid recovery to the injured."