US military helicopter crashes near North Korea
A CH-53 US Marine Corp transport helicopter has crash landed close to a Cheolwon military base – 54 miles north of Seoul – with 21 members of the US military aboard.
All 21 onboard were taken to a local hospital and six are currently receiving treatment whilst 15 service personnel have been released. No casualties have been reported. The service personnel involved in the crash were part of the 2,200 strong 31st Marine expeditionary unit based in Okinawa, Japan.
The crash and subsequent fire, which reduced the helicopter into nothing more than a scorched shell, has been described by US officials as a “hard landing”.
So far there is no indication that the crash, which occurred on the second day of a three-day commemoration of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung’s 101st birthday, was anything more than an accident.
The crash has come during ongoing US–South Korean joint military exercises that have been seen as antagonising an increasingly boisterous North Korea.
Vociferous anti-North Korean protests in Seoul, as well as the exercises, have drawn condemnation from Pyongyang, which sees them as placing further strain on the relations between itself and America’s regional allies.
As the power struggle on the North Korean peninsula currently shows no sign of dissolving it is important to note that the dangers of miscalculation and all-out war increase everyday.
When the situation involves thermo-nuclear weapons the stakes are far too high to leave any chance for an accident to be misread by either side.
The accident should remind policy makers and military leaders of the lessons of the Cuban Missile crisis in which dialogue and empathy between enemies were the only reasons we avoided destroying the nations we had built.
So far, no wider repercussions have been observed and an investigation to determine the cause of the incident is underway.