A Dutch army helicopter crashed in the Caribbean Sea near the island of Aruba. The crash killed two of the four people on board, the Dutch defence ministry said on Monday.
The chopper was on its way to neighbouring island Curacao on Sunday afternoon when it came down. It happened 12 kilometres (seven miles) off the coast of Aruba, a Netherlands overseas territory, the ministry said.
Rob Bauer, the Dutch armed forces chief, said it was not clear what caused the helicopter to crash some 12.5 kilometres (7.77 miles) off the coast of the Dutch island at the end of a coast patrol surveillance flight on Sunday.
The helicopter’s 34-year-old pilot Christine Martens and 33-year old tactical coordinator Erwin Warnies were killed. The other two crew members were not seriously injured, Bauer said.
“Two of the four-team members (onboard) were killed,” said Rob Bauer, head of the Dutch armed forces, at an early-hours press conference in The Hague.
“The two other team members are not seriously injured,” he added, calling the incident “terrible news” and “a shock for everyone”.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear but a coast guard helicopter and Dutch military divers would try to find the aircraft’s black box, he said.
However, the search would be made more difficult by strong winds, currents and large waves, Bauer cautioned. He added that an investigation would be opened.
Pending an investigation into the crash, all Dutch NH90 helicopters will be grounded until further notice.
There was no immediate comment from NHIndustries, the helicopter’s manufacturer based in Aix en Provence, France.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was shocked by the crash and offered his condolences to the victims’ families.