3 Killed In U.S. Chopper Crash

2001/6/14 US Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter in flight, photo
A U.S. military helicopter went down in a fiery crash in the Sicilian countryside Wednesday, killing three crew members, while a fourth remains "unaccounted for."

Navy officials in Italy say a search for that fourth crew member has been postponed because of darkness, but will resume tomorrow morning.

The U.S. Navy base at Sigonella, Sicily, confirmed the crash of a MH-53E Sea Dragon with four crew members. The names of crew members were being withheld pending family notification.

The crew was said to be on a routine training mission.

The helicopter had crashed a short time after taking off from the U.S. Navy base at Sigonella, outside Catania in eastern Sicily, according to national fire officials in Rome.

Italian firefighters said the helicopter was engulfed in flames sparked by the crash, and that the fire was put out by crews from the U.S. base.

The huge Sea Dragon helicopters can carry up to 55 troops or several tons of cargo. Its missions include sweeping for mines laid at sea.