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U.S. Helicopter Crashes, First Coalition Deaths Reported

Officials said the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

“Preliminary reports suggest that it was not as a result of hostile fire,” U.S. Marine Corps Major David Andersen told the Reuters news agency.

The crash reportedly occurred at 7:37 p.m. EST — Friday morning in Kuwait –about 10 miles away from the border with Iraq, military officials said.

The CH-46E helicopter, also known as the “Sea Knight,” has two large rotors and is used to transport troops from ships and base camps to forward positions.

This was the third coalition helicopter crash since military conflict began; an MH-53 “Pave Low” Special Operations helicopter and an AH-64 “Apache” attack helicopter made crash landings along the Kuwait-Iraq border in separate incidents on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Iraq’s military claimed to have shot down the “Pave Low,” while U.S. officials claimed it had made a safe crash landing.

After another helicopter rescued the crew, American warplanes bombed the craft to prevent Iraqi forces from taking control of it.

“The helicopter is in little pieces now,” said one official.

The Pentagon refused to comment on the incident. “We do not discuss any operational incidents,” said Bryan Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman.