At least seven soldiers were killed after a Romanian rescue helicopter crashed on Wednesday while searching for a fighter jet that had dropped off the radar, Reuters reported.

The IAR 330-Puma helicopter crashed near the village of Gura Dobrogei in eastern Romania late on Wednesday, about 11 kilometers from Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base from where it had taken off. The chopper was searching for military MiG 21 LanceR when it fell. The fate of the fighter jet and its pilot was not known.

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Confirming the news, the Romanian Ministry of Defense said, “The IAR 330-Puma helicopter, taken off today, around 20.21 o’clock, on a search-rescue mission of the Mig 21 LanceR aircraft, lost radio connection with the control tower and disappeared from the radar around 20.44. The pilot reported bad weather conditions and received orders to return to base.”

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The pilot of the helicopter was identified as 41-year-old Lieutenant-Commander Bogdan Florin.

He was “employed since 2003, had more than 1500 hours of flight, was married and had three children,” the ministry said. 

Meanwhile, offering condolences, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said, “I give my profound regret and full compassion for the loss of seven soldiers from the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base.”

This is a developing story