Four Hampshire servicemen die in Afghanistan helicopter tragedy

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FOUR Hampshire-based servicemen have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

They have been named as Capt Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner and Cpl James Walters, from the Army Air Corps, based at RAF Odiham, to the south of Odiham, in Hook, Hampshire.

Flt Lt Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force, who was also based at the county helicopter base, also died, along with L/Cpl Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps.

Commander Joint Helicopter Command, Major General Richard Felton, said: ‘It is with great sadness that we must confirm that five UK Service personnel have been killed in this incident which, at this early stage, would appear to have been a tragic accident.

‘Events like this, whilst mercifully rare, remind us of the risks our personnel face in their work in Afghanistan as we approach the conclusion of the combat mission later this year. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives.’

The next of kin of all the servicemen have been informed.

It is the third biggest single loss of life of British troops since the conflict in Afghanistan began in 2001, and brings the total number of UK service personnel killed there to 453.

Paying tribute, Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘My heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed in this terrible tragedy.

‘Every British fatality is a source of deep sadness. This latest incident, which has cost the lives of five UK service personnel, brings home to us all once again how our armed forces continue to put their lives on the line to help the people of Afghanistan.

‘I cannot pay high enough tribute to each and every one of them for the job that they do and the sacrifices that they make.’