All four people aboard an emergency care SMURD helicopter that crashed into Siutghiol lake near the Black Sea coast Monday afternoon have died, with Internal Affairs Minister Gabriel Oprea voicing deep regret at their death, the Internal Affairs Ministry (MAI) said in a release to Agerpres on Tuesday.
The pilot and co-pilot with the ministry’s General Aviation Inspectorate and two medical staff – a doctor and an assistant – working with Constanta county SMURD – the Mobile Emergency Resuscitation and Extrication Service – were killed after the EC (Eurocopter) 135 helicopter they were on crashed into Siutghiol lake.
The ministry announced that the SMURD-operated helicopters of the type of the one involved in the accident have been grounded. A probe into finding the causes of the accident is underway by the Military Prosecutor’s Office.
The helicopter was flying back from a medical mission, after having flown a patient to Constanta County Hospital, when the crash occurred, the release stressed.
The EC 135 helicopter was taken over by the General Aviation Inspectorate from Constanta County Council on this Nov. 25 to be used in SMURD-type missions, the ministry said.
PM Ponta sends condolences, promises authorities will act to elucidate the causes of the crash
Prime Minister, Victor Ponta says in a message of condolences released on Tuesday by the Government that authorities will act to find out “as quickly as possible” the causes of the helicopter accident on Monday afternoon, in which four people lost their lives after the SMURD helicopter they were in has crashed into Siutghiol Lake, northern Constanta County (southeastern Romania).
“I assure all Romanians that the authorities will act to find out as quickly as possible the causes of this terrible tragedy!” the Prime Minister said in a statement remitted to Agerpres on Tuesday.
In the said release, Victor Ponta expresses in the name of the Government his solidarity with the families of the deceased in the crash.
President-elect expresses his deep regret for the tragedy
President-elect, Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday has sent a message of condolences to the families of victims of helicopter crash in Constanta County. ‘I express my deep regret for the tragedy which took place yesterday in Constanta County and I send sincere condolences to the victims’ families. I call you to join me next to those in grief through our thoughts of solidarity and compassion,’ says Klaus Iohannis in his message. He voiced hope that ‘as soon as possible, following an investigation, the causes which led to this terrible tragedy will be revealed.’
Arafat: The helicopter was not equipped for intervention flights in the maritime area
Secretary of State with the Interior Ministry (MAI), Raed Arafat confirmed journalists that the emergency care SMURD helicopter that crashed into Siutghiol lake near the Black Sea coast Monday afternoon was not equipped for performing intervention flights in the maritime area. Dr. Raed Arafat said on Tuesday in Constanta (southeast Romania), that the action taken in response to the SMURD helicopter crash was in accordance with the procedures. All four people aboard the emergency care helicopter have died. Raed Arafat said that the National Single Emergency Service received the first call through the 112 emergency system at 4.11 p.m. and at 4.25 p.m. the first units arrived at the scene. Later, at 4.40 p.m., doctor Laura Vizireanu was found. Dr. Arafat admitted that the first victim recovered from the water, doctor Laura Vizireanu, was found and brought to shore by two fishermen, but he added that while she was transported by boat, the victim was permanently assisted and resuscitated by a paramedic. “Action was taken as fast as possible, the data will be centralized, an analysis will be conducted to determine if the responsibilities were properly fulfilled,” Raed Arafat said.
Nicusor Constantinescu: Raed Arafat changed the role of helicopter
The President of Constanta County Council, Nicusor Constantinescu, said yesterday that several pieces of equipment, including the helicopter that crashed into the Siutghiol Lake had been purchased in the framework of a Romania-Bulgaria programme, but its purpose and optional features had been changes while he was suspended as head of the County Council. ‘This helicopter performed 180 hours of intervention flights, as its purpose is not just to transport patients, it was also supposed to be used for flying over the territory of Constanta, Dobrici, Black Sea and the lake, this is why I told you that it had a special role. The role was unfortunately changed while I was in the US, in November this year. By whom? By Mr. Raed Arafat who took it over, changed the purpose of the contract and the tragedy you saw yesterday happened’, Nicusor Constantinescu said.
N. Constantinescu noted the helicopter used to be quipped with float undercarriage allowing it to float, which it did not have when the accident occurred, it had a backup engine in case the first one stops, and a cable hoist to rescue people using the harness. ‘I know that yesterday the Constanta Port Master’s Office was unfortunately not alerted to intervene with high speed boats. Did you know there was a Jupiter boat on the lake, at 500 m distance from the crash point? Why wasn’t it activated? I cannot activate anything because of the Court decision, although I am the Vice-President of the Emergency Committee, I may not contact the employees of the County Council or county councillors. I am just the president in office. I notified the prefect and the institutions I could alert’, Constantinescu said.
He added that, a year ago, he refused to approve the change of role for the helicopter, aware of the ‘criminal ramifications’ such thing would have had, but the role of the equipment was changed anyway while he was suspended. ‘I publicly refused last year to give this helicopter to the Ministry of Interior, to Mr. Arafat, without someone taking responsibility for altering its role. I cannot change it because Arafat says so. I said to him: <Mr. Secretary of State, you can sign if you wish, you can cancel the contract, you take responsibility in front of the public, obtain the approval of the European Union and you may have it>, for I am not mad to pay for its maintenance, pilots, doctors from the little money the County Council has. I did not agree to that abusive request. Ask Mr. Arafat where the float undercarriage is’, Constantinescu further said.The Bucharest Military Prosecutor’s Office has opened a criminal case investigating into the circumstances of the crash of the SMURD helicopter with four people onboard into the Siutghiol Lake in Constanta County on Monday.
Gabriel Oprea dismisses ISU Dobrogea head and asks that Constanta prefect be replaced
Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea has dismissed the head of the Dobrogea Emergency Rescue Inspectorate, Viorel Jianu, and asked PM Victor Ponta to replace Constanta Prefect Radu Volcinschi following the aviation accident that occurred in the county on Monday.
The victims of the tragic aviation accident have been taken over by their families
After a ceremony organised at Constanta County Hospital, the bodies were taken by the close ones. A religious service was also performed in the chapel and then the victims were taken over by the families.
Who the victims are
The four people killed in the crash are: nurse Gabriela Harton (38), pregnant and the mother of a 13-year-old girl; doctor Laura Vizireanu (39), the mother of a 9-year-old boy; pilot Petre Corneliu Catuneanu (47) and copilot Ginel Claudiu Cracanel (42).