At least 14 people have been killed in an incident where a helicopter transporting senior police and judiciary officials crashed in southeastern Turkey. Officials said the police helicopter had 12 people on board when it crashed in the eastern province of Tunceli during the early hours of Tuesday. Security sources said two judges were on board the helicopter as well as seven police officers.
The rest of the casualties were crew members, the sources said, without elaborating whether people at the scene of the incident were also affected. Other reports in local media said eight police officers were killed in the crash. They said the helicopter crashed in an area between Pulumur and Ovacik districts.
A military unit, comprising staff from Turkey’s Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), were immediately dispatched to the scene of the incident for search and rescue. There was no official report about the potential cause of the crash. Local media said heavy rainfall and fog could have been a major issue while security sources said they suspected bad weather conditions.
Southeastern Turkey has been subject to long periods of state of emergency over the past two years. Turkish security forces and judicial officials have been the target of attacks by suspected militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The attacks intensified after Ankara launched a massive crackdown on the PKK. The Turkish military says thousands of militants have been killed in the crackdown while pro-Kurdish parties challenge the figure, saying most of those killed have been civilians.