29 June 2000 Edition

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British helicopter crashes in South Armagh

The latest British Army helicopter to crash in South Armagh went down on Saturday evening 24 June at about 6pm.

The low-flying Lynx hit telephone wires near Corliss, two miles outside Crossmaglen, and went down ``about 30 yards from the road, where it lay for over an hour and a half'', said South Armagh Assembly member Pat McNamee.

He has demanded that these aircraft be grounded.

Six British soldiers in the helicopter suffered slight injuries and were treated at the scene. According to Toni Carragher of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee, ``the helicopter narrowly missed a house and farm buildings as it made an emergency landing''.

Just last week, Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy accused a British Army pilot of flying, ``dangerously low'' when a helicopter followed a woman as she collected her children from school.

The woman had just been waved through a crown forces' checkpoint when the aircraft flew in low behind her car.

In a second incident, 75-year-old Charlie McGinnis from Camlough described how a helicopter hovered over his house before banking. ``It was so low that the gravel in the lane outside my house was lifted up,'' he said. ``I don't know why they did it, whether it was for thrills or to terrify people on the ground.''

Two months ago the British Ministry of Defence admitted that there was a problem with its Lynx and Puma helicopters and said they would be withdrawing a number of the aircraft from service due to a fault in the tail rotor shafts.

On 2 March, a British Army Lynx crashed just 50 yards from a farmhouse in Mullaghbawn. The British army claimed at the time that a number of British soldiers were injured in this crash, although local people suspected that two of those on board died.

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