Military Helicopter Crash in Egypt Kills 8 Peacekeepers, 6 Identified as US Citizens

November 12, 2020 Updated: November 12, 2020

A military helicopter that crashed in Egypt during a routine mission killed eight uniformed peacekeepers of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), officials said Thursday.

The MFO said in a news release nine members of the force were involved in the crash while on a mission in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Only one peacekeeper survived the crash and was airlifted to a hospital where he remains in critical condition.

Those that were killed included six U.S. citizens, all military service members, MFO officials said in the release. In addition to the Americans, a French national and a Czech citizen also perished in the crash.

The ninth peacekeeper and single survivor who is badly injured has been identified as a U.S. citizen as well, the international force that monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement said, according to The Associated Press.

“We are deeply saddened to report that eight uniformed MFO members were killed,” the MFO said. The names of the victims are being withheld pending notification of their next of kin, it added.

The force said the crash is under investigation to determine the cause, but at this point, there is no indication of an attack. Islamic terrorist groups that are affiliated with ISIS are known to be active in the region of Sinai.

The helicopter has been described as a UH-60 Black Hawk and in a preliminary investigation, officials believe the crash was due to a technical malfunction.

“At this point, there is no information to indicate the crash was anything except an accident,” the MFO said. “We greatly appreciate the co-operation and support of Egypt and Israel in the recovery effort.”

The MFO was installed to monitor the demilitarization of the Sinai under the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace accord.

In recent years, Washington has been assessing to what extent the United States should participate in the MFO, especially as military coordination between Israel and Egypt has tightened to help beat back an Islamist-led insurgency in the Sinai.

According to its website, the MFO has 1,154 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries, covering an area of more than 3,860 square miles in the Sinai. Some 452 of the personnel are American.

Reuters contributed to this report.