10 French soldiers missing as military helicopter crashes off Gabon

January 18, 2009 07:56

A helicopter with 10 French soldiers aboard crashed off the coast of Gabon in central Africa, the French president's office said Saturday night. It was not immediately clear whether there were any survivors. French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement that "all available means" would be deployed to search for those aboard the helicopter. The statement says Sarkozy immediately dispatched Defense Minister Herve Morin to the crash site. The helicopter was carrying out joint military exercises with Gabon when it went down. In Gabon, French military spokesman Lt. Col. Pascal Carpentier said the helicopter went down around 8 p.m. off the coast of the economic capital, Port Gentil, southwest of Libreville. It was not known what caused the chopper to plunge into the frigid sea, Carpentier said.

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