By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 29 March 2014:
The body of a man thought to be one . . .[restrict]of the pilots on board the air force helicopter that disappeared on 12 February has been found on a beach in Sirte region, it has been announced.
The decomposing body was discovered by security forces 20 kilometres east of Buwayrat Hassoun and about 50 kilometres west of Sirte. The commander of Sirte’s Gardabiya airbase, Colonel Saleh Habib, is quoted as saying that the dead man is Air Force Lieutenant Saleh Al-Gadrani.
The claim has been greeted with some scepticism and astonishment. Buwayrat Hassoun is some 350 kilometres from Umm Al-Ghraniq beach near Brega, where the body of another of the pilots on board, Air Force Lieutenant Hamdi Abdulkhalek Al-Drisi was found six days ago. His body was identified following DNA testing at Benghazi Medical Centre.
It is reported that Drisi’s body had been hastily buried at Umm Al-Ghraniq and was only discovered after winds blew the sand away. For another body from the same crash to be found so far away suggest that it was deliberately placed there. It is unlikely, if the helicopter crashed into the sea, that currents could have taken it so far.
Drisi was being finally laid to rest today after Asr prayer in his village of Batta, east of Marj.
The Council of Minister this week ordered a formal investigation into the disappearance of the helicopter – widely believed to have been shot down.
Meanwhile, a team from Benghazi’s Benina airbase, which is where the ill-fated helicopter was based, has developed a small underwater search device which it is hoped may be able to locate it if it crashed into the sea.
The search team has also announced that an underwater scanning device has been sent from the UK to help in the search.
However, there have been credible reports that it crashed on land and that it and those on board were then secretly buried by those who shot it down to hide the evidence. [/restrict]