Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 January 2020

UAE crash helicopter airmen given hero's funeral

Navigator Jasim Abdullah Al Tunaiji and pilot Saqr Saeed Al Yamahi were among four men killed when their aircraft went down on Jebel Jais

The funeral of Jassim Abdullah Al Tanaiji in Ras Al Khaimah. WAM
The funeral of Jassim Abdullah Al Tanaiji in Ras Al Khaimah. WAM

Two airman who died when their search and rescue helicopter crashed into a mountainside have been laid to rest.

Hundreds of people, including many emergency service and military personnel, attended the separate services of navigator Jasim Abdullah Al Tunaiji and pilot Saqr Saeed Al Yamahi.

Al Tunaiji, 45, was buried at Al Rams cemetery in Ras Al Khaimah on New Year's Eve while Al Yamahi was buried on Tuesday following prayers at Saeed Matar Al Kaabi Mosque in Al Qurayyah, Fujairah.

Both men died in a helicopter crash during a rescue mission at Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah at 5.50pm on Saturday.

The crew are believed to have been attempting the rescue of an Indian national who had suffered injuries in a fall.

The aircraft is thought to have struck the world's longest zipline ride, operated by the adventure company Toroverde.

The ride has been closed since and one of the three lines appears to have been severed or taken down as a result. Investigators are still probing the crash and the mountain access road remains closed.

Ahmed Al Tunaiji, the navigator's brother, told The National that the family was proud of their brother and son. He was father to Amna, 17, Mohammed 12, and Abdullah 9.

“He was proud to carry out rescue missions, and was keen to instill the quality of giving in the hearts of his children," Ahmed said.

"He urged them to be patriotic and spared no effort in bringing happiness to his family members every way he could."

He said he was "always smiling", had a good sense of humour, and was loved by everyone in the community and stood by friends and family in good times and bad.

Jasim’s last message to his family members and friends after Al Fajr prayers on the day of the crash was about death and the importance of praying for those who had passed.

“It's as if he was saying goodbye,” said Ahmed.

Another brother, Saif Al Tunaiji, 51, said their parents died two years ago.

“He was the first among us to follow them. May they all be in Paradise," he said.

“Words can not describe the kind of man he was, and for that, he was chosen by god to be a martyr and to die while performing his noble duty."

After the funeral, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of RAK, offered condolences to the family of Al Tunaiji.

While visiting the mourning majlis in Al Rams, Sheikh Saud expressed his heartfelt sympathy and solace and prayed for the airman and his family.

Pilot Hameed Mohamed Obaid Al Zaabi and paramedic and winchman Mark Roxburgh, from South Africa, also died in the crash.

Their funerals are expected in the coming days.

Speaking on Sunday, aviation expert Julian Bray said the crew would probably have stood no chance of avoiding disaster if rotors had collided with a zipline.

“If it’s gone into this wire then it’s pretty sudden. It would just fall out of the sky. There’s nothing you can do at all," Mr Bray said.

Investigators will now be hoping that two black box recorders on board the helicopter will provide answers to how the aircraft crashed, he said.


Read more:

Helicopter crashes after hitting zipline on Jebel Jais, killing all of its crew

Paramedic who died in RAK helicopter crash was a single father to a young child

Crew stood 'no chance' once helicopter went into tailspin

Identities of UAE helicopter crash crew released

Updated: January 1, 2019 08:19 PM