Firefighting helicopter crashes off Greek island; 2 dead

July 13, 2022 GMT
An helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos, Greece, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. A firefighting helicopter battling a blaze on the Greek island of Samos has crashed into the sea, authorities say. Three of the crew of four have been located, but only one, a Romanian pilot, has been confirmed alive. (AP Photo/Michael Svarnias)
An helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos, Greece, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. A firefighting helicopter battling a blaze on the Greek island of Samos has crashed into the sea, authorities say. Three of the crew of four have been located, but only one, a Romanian pilot, has been confirmed alive. (AP Photo/Michael Svarnias)
An helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos, Greece, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. A firefighting helicopter battling a blaze on the Greek island of Samos has crashed into the sea, authorities say. Three of the crew of four have been located, but only one, a Romanian pilot, has been confirmed alive. (AP Photo/Michael Svarnias)
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An helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos, Greece, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. A firefighting helicopter battling a blaze on the Greek island of Samos has crashed into the sea, authorities say. Three of the crew of four have been located, but only one, a Romanian pilot, has been confirmed alive. (AP Photo/Michael Svarnias)
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An helicopter takes part in a search and rescue operation near the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos, Greece, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. A firefighting helicopter battling a blaze on the Greek island of Samos has crashed into the sea, authorities say. Three of the crew of four have been located, but only one, a Romanian pilot, has been confirmed alive. (AP Photo/Michael Svarnias)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Two members of a helicopter crew battling a forest fire on the Greek island of Samos died when it crashed into the sea, authorities said Wednesday.

A Romanian national and a Greek liaison officer died in the crash, while two Moldovan nationals survived, a Coast Guard spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

The Soviet-era Mi-8 helicopter, leased for firefighting operations from Ukraine, took off from Samos at 4:39 p.m. and crashed off the island at 5:55 p.m.

Nine vessels, five from the Coast Guard, two from the army and two private, as well as a helicopter, took part in the rescue operation, the spokeswoman said.

All the island’s 27 firefighters plus four planes and a helicopter were fighting the blaze in a forested area on Samos, which lies close to the Turkish coast. The flames were being fanned by high winds, the Fire Service said.