Firefighting helicopter crashes off Greek island; 2 dead

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Two members of a helicopter crew battling a forest fire on the Greek island of Samos died when it crashed into the sea, authorities said Wednesday.

A Romanian national and a Greek liaison officer died in the crash, while two Moldovan nationals survived, a Coast Guard spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

The Soviet-era Mi-8 helicopter, leased for firefighting operations from Ukraine, took off from Samos at 4:39 p.m. and crashed off the island at 5:55 p.m.

Nine vessels, five from the Coast Guard, two from the army and two private, as well as a helicopter, took part in the rescue operation, the spokeswoman said.

All the island’s 27 firefighters plus four planes and a helicopter were fighting the blaze in a forested area on Samos, which lies close to the Turkish coast. The flames were being fanned by high winds, the Fire Service said.

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