Salvadoran Air Force MD 500 Helicopter Crashes in Mali

A Salvadoran Air Force MD 500 scout helicopter crashed while returning from a mission to the city of Gao, Mali in support of the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission.

The accident occurred at 4:30 p.m. local time on Nov. 29. One pilot, 2nd Lt. Mario Sánchez Romano, suffered injuries while the other pilot, Captain Juan Amílcar González Umaña, was unharmed in the incident, according to the official report.

“Today, after carrying out a mission to support the Niger forces, they faced a flight emergency which was solved thanks to the professionalism of the crew, the ship captain being unharmed and with the co-pilot’s elbow injuries, thus avoiding human losses,” tweeted Salvadoran Defense Minister René Francis Merino Monroy.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (French: Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation au Mali, MINUSMA) is a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.

El Salvador, a small country of about six million people, contributes with three MD500E helicopters and a contingent of 90 peacekeepers to MINUSMA mission. The armed helicopter unit, named “Torogoz” after an emblematic bird in El Salvador, includes pilots, maintenance teams, medical personnel, and marines.

The contingent’s main mission is to conduct day and night air patrols, providing support to troops on the ground and is one of the Salvadoran military’s most significant international deployments.

MINUSMA was established on 25 April 2013 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2100 to stabilise the country after the Tuareg rebellion of 2012. It was officially deployed on 1 July, and has become the UN’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission, with 204 peacekeepers killed out of a force of about 15,000.

Next to MINUSMA, there are current further peace operations in Mali. These are the European Union missions EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUTM Mali.

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