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Rescue helicopter crashes - lighthouse blamed

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10:02 CEST+02:00
A rescue helicopter crashed on Saturday night on its way to pick up a man complaining of heart pain on Häradskär in Gryts Archipelago. While the official cause of the crash has yet to be determined, Svenska Dagbladet reported that the crew blamed a lighthouse beacon.

"The lighthouse was obviously horribly irritating," said one of the crew members. "Every time it shined [we] lost visual contact with land."

At 11pm on Saturday the rescue centre lost radio contact with the helicopter on its way to Häradskär. The centre called the sick man who reported that he had heard the helicopter north of the island. The centre understood something had gone wrong and eight ships and four helicopters were called in to assist.

Emergency signals from the crewmen's life vests ensured that all five of them were rescued after an hour's wait in the water. Suffering only mild hypothermia and no serious injuries they were released from hospital after a few hours. The man with the heart problem was ferried by the rescue ship and driven to Gryt where an ambulance rushed him to a hospital in Norrköping. There's no report of his condition.

Mats Öfverstedt, the chief investigator, confirmed the crew's explanation in Tuesday's Stockholm City: "The blinding light complicated circumstances upon landing."

He added that a thorough technical investigation would take place before any conclusions were made. The Swedish Coastguard successfully retrieved the downed helicopter on Monday despite bad weather and tough conditions. The helicopter was upright and intact at a depth of 10 metres.

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius

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