Contact was lost with the helicopter at around 3 p.m. after it took off from the offices of Fethiye Forest Management to extinguish a forest fire raging near the village of Çövenli in the Köyceğiz district. According to initial reports, the helicopter went down after hitting boulders on Otmanlar Hill.
Reports say the five people in the helicopter, Atıf Ateşok, pilot of the helicopter, Orhan Çelik and three Russians -- Alexander Gavrilov, Nikolay Atepalikhin and Sergey Khorokhorin -- were killed in the crash. Search and rescue teams had some difficulty retrieving the bodies of the victims due to the rocky location of the crash. The victims were taken to Fethiye State Hospital aboard a military helicopter and later sent to the Izmir Forensic Medicine Institute for identification. At this time officials have only been able to confirm the identity of the pilot because of the watch he was wearing, A ceremony was held for the victims at the İzmir Regional Forestry Directorate on Friday.
Fethiye Public Prosecution Office that launched an investigation to determine the exact cause of the crash also examined the bodies of the victims as part of the investigation.
Forestry General Director Mustafa Kurtulmuşlu told reporters that the helicopter crashed because it was flying low in order to extinguish the forest fire quickly, and the bambi basket [water tank] of the helicopter became stuck in some trees. Kurtulmuşlu added that the helicopter then lost height and crashed into the rocks.
The pilot of the helicopter Ateşok was reportedly involved in another helicopter crash on Aug. 28, 2006. He was rescued alive from the wreckage of the helicopter with three other people.