Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Provocation During Search and Rescue Mission

DefenceNet reports that last night a Greek Super Puma helicopter carrying out a Search and Rescue (SAR) mission over Farmakonisi started receiving warning calls from a Turkish ground station (DATCA) on the emergency channel. The Greek helicopter was warned that it was supposedly breaching Turkish air space, which was not the case. The calls continued for nearly an hour between 22:50 and 23:47. The helicopter had taken off from Chios Island at 21:30 to participate in the SAR mission.

The Greek helicopter crew ignored the Turkish calls and continued its mission participating in the rescue of illegal immigrants, a task that was carried out in cooperation with a Hellenic Navy gunboat. Turkish smugglers had left 32 illegal immigrants on the shores of Farmakonisi, one of whom was killed when trying to escape a patrol.

Ultimately the operation was successful and many immigrants were rescued. The Super Puma helicopter returned to its base at roughly 02:00 in the morning.

The entire operation was being monitored by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel from afar.

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