Guyanese Defence Force helicopter goes down near Venezuelan border

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

On top of mounting tensions between Guyana and Venezuela, one of the Caricom country’s military aircraft has gone missing over the disputed Essequibo region. Search-and-rescue operations are under way to locate a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopter that went down near the Venezuelan border during what officials say was a “border operation.” In a release on Wednesday, the GDF said it is carrying out searches, aided by private-sector aircraft operators.

It said the GDF Bell 412 Helicopter, 8R-AYA, left Base Camp Ayanganna at 9.23 am on Tuesday for Arau, carrying three crew members and four passengers. It said the aircraft transmitted an Emergency Locator Transmitter signal at 11.20 am, from co-ordinates approximately 30 miles east of Arau, on Guyana’s western borders.

The GDF said adverse weather in the area is hampering the search-and-rescue operation. The news outlet News Room Guyana reports senior government officials as saying the helicopter was piloted by a seasoned career army officer, Lieut Col Michael Charles.

It also reported the helicopter was on a border operation.