Taiwan promises assistance to Paraguay in wake of helicopter crash

11/25/2019 12:05 PM
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File photo of an UH-1H helicopter for illustrative purpose only
File photo of an UH-1H helicopter for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Sunday it will provide assistance to Paraguay in the aftermath of an accident in which a military helicopter crashed near a factory, triggering a huge fire in the area earlier in the week.

The syringe factory and nearby homes in Pedro Juan Caballero City went up in flames when the UH-1H utility helicopter plunged to the ground on Nov. 21, but no one was seriously injured, according to Paraguay news reports.

As part of the efforts to determine the cause of the crash, an investigation team in Paraguay has requested technical documents for the UH-1H, which was donated by Taiwan to its only diplomatic ally in South America, according to the MND.

"We are deeply concerned about the accident." the MND said in a statement on Sunday. "In light of our friendship, we will provide logistics and other support, depending on Paraguay's needs."

Taiwan values the 62 years of diplomatic ties and bilateral military relations with Paraguay, the ministry said.

The helicopter that crashed was one of two refurnished UH-1Hs Taiwan donated to Paraguay in August, along with 30 military trucks, according to a source in the MND.

Taiwan has also donated a total of seven UH-1Hs to Honduras, Guatemala and Burkina Faso in recent years, the source said.

In the 1970s, Taiwan produced 118 UH-1H helicopters, under license from the American manufacturer Bell Helicopter, but those it retained were formally decommissioned in October 2019.

At the decommissioning ceremony, a military official, who asked not to be named, told CNA that some of the retired UH-1Hs would be donated Eswatini, Taiwan's only remaining diplomatic ally in Africa.

(By Emerson Lim)


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