North Korean helicopter explodes mid-air in training accident

Two confirmed dead in mid-air explosion along the Chinese-North Korean border
June 27th, 2014

A North Korean helicopter exploded in mid-air on Tuesday during a training exercise near the North Korea-China border, claiming the lives of two North Korean soldiers.

The training exercise involving paratroopers was being conducted near the North Korean city of Sinuiju when the helicopter exploded, showering the area with debris, according to a witness interviewed by South Korean broadcaster the Korean Broadcasting Service (KBS).

“Just before the explosion happened in the air, I saw 3 to 4 parachutists jumping out of the plane. The propeller also fell from the sky. I was scared out of my wits and I was cowering the whole time when the incident happened,” the unnamed witness told KBS.

The search and rescue operation took place close to Wihwa Island along the Yalu River near the Chinese city of Dandong. North Korea reportedly refused help from the Chinese, who offered their assistance with the rescue efforts, although it appears that North Korean civilians took part.

Google Maps: A map of Wiwha Island, the area the incident occurred.

Google Maps: A map of Wiwha Island, the area the incident occurred.

KBS aired images of the search and rescue operation in the area with one shot showing what appears to be a body being pulled from the river into a boat, with subsequent images showing a body covered by a blanket being carried ashore on a stretcher.

Although the footage captured is credited to KBS 1, it is unclear who filmed the rescue efforts. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.

Translation by Hong Won Choi London

Featured Image: Nado Handdenun Blog North Korean helicopter

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About the Author

Hamish Macdonald

Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.

Join the discussion

  • joshuagenes

    Why would it explode? Were they carrying explosive? Was it a conspiracy? Are they going to blame the American’s? Could it have been a Laser to the gas tank? Or was it just a failure in maintenance?

    • Warren Lauzon

      North Korea has severe problems in maintenance and spare parts so I think that self destruction due to that or pilot error is the most probable. But if was carrying soldiers, it is possible that one them screwed up and pulled the pin on a grenade or similar mistake.

  • Warren Lauzon

    Judging from the amount of haze in the photo, I would guess it was taken from the Chinese side or possibly from the river, as it looks like an extreme telephoto shot.

    • nn

      The photo is wrong thats a Russian helicopter The words in it are written in Russian

      • Warren Lauzon

        The one in the top picture is Russian, yes. I was talking about the 3rd one, taken from across the river. Not sure why they used that picture of a Russian one, unless it is supposed to be the same type.

        • nn

          I don’t think NK govt will let people take photos from their side

          They try to Cover every sign of weakness so its probably from the Chinese side

          Well the russia heli look like a Mi-26 the most powerful helicopter ever gone into mass production DPRK only have 4 of them and Losing even one of them is big loss

          Its probably a Mi-8 or Mi-2 becuase DPRK don’t regualarly use mi-26 helis and they only appear on parades

  • Paul

    These sorts of things happen on both sides of the fence. I wodent read too much into it

  • zbeast

    If there was a transmission failure, the tork would rotated the transmission ripping it from it’s mounts and smash it into the fuel tank. Trom the ground that would look like an explosion.

  • Mark Luther Dimaano Rosal