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U.S. Air Force helicopter crash on UK coast kills four

By CNN Staff
updated 9:35 AM EST, Wed January 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An investigation is expected to take several days, police say
  • The helicopter was on a low-level training mission when it crashed
  • The Pave Hawk is a modified version of a Black Hawk

(CNN) -- Recovery of the bodies of the four U.S. Air Force personnel who died Tuesday evening when their military helicopter crashed near Cley, on the North Sea coast of England, could take more than a day, an official said.

"You would be very much mistaken if you thought that this would be a quick process," Norfolk Constabulary Chief Superintendent Bob Scully told reporters.

"A lot hinges on our ability to understand what happened to the aircraft that crashed, and that includes the detailed investigation that needs to be done."

The U.S. Air Force Pave Hawk HH-60G helicopter, from a British base in Lakenheath, crashed in a nature preserve.

The Royal Air Force base said the crash occurred during an evening training mission while the helicopter was flying low.

This file photo shows a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter on a training mission in 2011.
This file photo shows a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter on a training mission in 2011.

Cley is 180 kilometers (about 110 miles) northeast of London.

Removal of the dead from the aircraft "can disrupt the evidence and so it has to be done methodically, step by step ... possibly until tomorrow," Scully said.

Specialists from the Royal Air Force, the U.S. Air Force and investigators from the Norfolk Constabulary were working together to find out what happened, he said.

Scully said he did not know whether families of the dead had been notified.

Though ammunition scattered across the site during the crash, "the community do not need to be concerned" as long as they respect the cordon erected around the site, he said.

Roads near the site have been closed and will probably remain that way until Monday, he said.

According to the Air Force website, a Pave Hawk is a "highly modified" version of a Black Hawk helicopter that often carries a crew of two pilots, one flight engineer and one gunner.

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CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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