A U.S. Navy helicopter crashed Tuesday off the coast of Colombia, Navy officials said. The status of the crew and other details were not yet known, but Navy Cmdr. David Werner said that the helicopter went down Tuesday morning west of Colombia. Werner, a spokesman at Navy headquarters in the Pentagon, said he did not know the status of any Navy personnel on the aircraft.
A search and rescue effort is under way, Werner said. Another Navy spokesman, Lt. John Schofield, said later that the helicopter was an SH-60B, which normally operates with a crew of three but can have as many as five. He said it was not yet clear how many were aboard the aircraft. He said it went down under unknown circumstances in international waters west of Colombia. Navy aircraft often fly counter-drug missions off ships in the region. Colombia is the world's largest cocaine producer and a major supplier of heroin to the United States.
Since the year 2000, the United States has spent $4 billion (Ђ3.4 billion) for "Plan Colombia," a joint U.S.-Colombia anti-drug program that ended in September. The United States provides the Colombian government with training, equipment and other aid under the project, reports the AP. N.U.