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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Sierra Leone mourn crash deaths
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie
BBC Sport, Freetown

Richard Attipoe
Togo Sports Minister Richard Attipoe was killed in the helicopter accident

A three-day period of mourning has been declared in Sierra Leone for the twenty Togolese who died in a helicopter crash at the Freetown International airport in Lungi on June 3.

The crash claimed the lives of Togo's Minister of Sports, Richard Attipoe, and several members of the Togo Football Federation.

The Togo delegation had travelled to Freetown to watch an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone, which the Hawks won 1-0.

Sierra Leone's Minister of Sports Dr Dennis Bright has said a commission of inquiry will investigate the circumstances surrounding a helicopter crash that killed at least 20 people.

The accident occurred a few hours after the match, as the helicopter ferried passengers from Freetown to Lungi airport to connect with a chartered flight bound for Togo.

"We're yet to discover the reasons leading to the accident and we are setting up commission of inquiry to look in to the crash," Dr Bright told BBC Sport.

"We are shocked at the tragedy and we've sent a fax message to the Togolese government expressing our heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family and the government and people of Togo."

"I felt the death of all twenty Togolese killed particularly my colleague the sports minister, who I had had meaningful discussions with just a few hours before he met his death.

"We had developed a friendly relationship and I'll surely miss him."

Meanwhile the Togo team and other officials, who were the next group due to be ferried by the helicopter, have returned home after the tragedy.

Sierra Leone FA officials have told BBC Sport that special arrangements will be made to fly the bodies to Lome.

The Togo government's delegation that travelled to Sierra Leone to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of their country men have finished their work and returned to Togo.

SEE ALSO
Togo scrape past Sierra Leone
03 Jun 07 |  African


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