Body of last soldier recovered from crash

The body of the last French soldier killed in a helicopter crash off of Gabon has been found, general staff sources said. Five others were recovered on Sunday from the wreckage of a Cougar transport helicopter.


AFP - The body of the last missing French soldier killed in an army helicopter crash off Gabon was recovered Monday near the undersea wreckage, the general staff said.

A French oil firm provided an undersea robot to the recovery operation, a day after five others were pulled from the wreckage of the Cougar transport copter, said Captain Christophe Prazuk, a spokesman for the general staff.

In all, eight soldiers died and two survived when the Cougar went down Saturday shortly after take-off from the French carrier La Foudre during military exercises with the central African country.

The French military has temporarily grounded its fleet of 17 Cougar helicopters until the investigation determines whether they have a technical fault.

"This is a precautionary step that is routinely taken every time an incident takes place on a aircraft," said armed forces spokesman Colonel Benoit Royal.

The French army said it could draw on its 95 Puma and eight Caracal helicopters while the Cougars, which have been in service for an average of 16 years, are grounded.

Among the 10 soldiers on board the helicopter were six special forces paratroopers.

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