US military helicopter crash lands, takes out street lights

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A US Black Hawk military helicopter has been forced to emergency land during a training exercise in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, after it lost altitude.

The helicopter, which landed near the city’s Arc De Triumph on Thursday, took out two lamp posts and halted traffic on a road where it came to landing.

It was one of several aircraft taking part in rehearsals for two upcoming military parades; one marking the end of the Romanian Army’s military missions in Afghanistan, and another for a Romanian Air Force celebration day.

Video footage from Thursday appeared to show the helicopter losing altitude and hovering several feet above traffic as Romanian police cleared an area for its landing. It remains unknown what caused the incident, which is under investigation.

“We regret the incident that happened Thursday, with a helicopter of the US Armed Forces that was forced to land in Charles de Gaulle Square in Bucharest,” Romania’s ministry of defence said in a statement. “The pilot managed to control the aircraft so that there are no victims, and the material damage is reduced.”

A Romanian military official told Reuters at the site of the crash landing that the participation of all aircraft in the two events, on Tuesday and Wednesday, had been immediately cancelled while investigations were ongoing.

The US embassy in Romania added that it was “closely following the developments” and “working with our Romanian partners to resolve the situation and we will provide updated information as it becomes available”.

Romania — which became a member of NATO in 2004 — has participated in Afghanistan military missions for 19 years with more than 32,000 troops. It repatriated its last 140 troops from the country at the end of May.

US forces are set to fully withdraw from the country by 31 August.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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