A military training session between Gabonese and French troops in Gabon struck disaster struck as a military helicopter carrying about eleven French soldiers crashed into a sea near Port-Gentil.
The wreckage of the helicopter which crashed soon after take off from the French seaplane carrier La Foudre off the coast of Gabon was found Sunday. Three French soldiers have so far survived the crash; four are said to be missing while two have been confirmed dead. No Gabonese soldier was said to be involved in the crash, however.
It is still uncertain what may have caused the crash. However, the presence of the French defense minister and medical attention has been demanded for with the French president calling for the depolyment of “all available means” to search for the missing soldiers.
The crash was said to have taken place a few minutes after the military plane was above ground near the coastal city of Port Gentil, Saturday evening. According to Lieutenant Colonel Francois-Marie Gougeon, spokesman for the general staff, meteorological conditions were conducive for a safe operation at the time of the disaster “but the night was very dark”
Since Gabon’s independence from France in 1960, the French have had a military base in the country and have been involved in several military exercises with the Gabonese army. Their presence has drastically calmed tensions that have lingered over the three small islands in oil-rich off-shore waters claimed by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.