A helicopter crashed outside the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur, killing all six people aboard, local authorities said Saturday. Among the dead were a former ambassador to the U.S. and a current aide to Prime Minister Najib Razak. A witness to the crash claimed to see the helicopter “explode” while in the air in rainy conditions, according to the Star Online in Malaysia, according to Astro Awani in Malaysia.
The privately owned helicopter was headed from Kuantan to Subang when it crashed at a rubber plantation about three miles from Kumpang Sungai Pening. Along with the two politicians aboard, the dead included a pilot, a co-pilot, a bodyguard and the businessman Tan Sri Robert Tan. The bodies of all six people have been recovered, the Associated Press reported.
Jamaluddin Jarjis, who has been a member of the Malaysian Parliament since 1990, was the country’s ambassador to the U.S. between 2009 and 2012, according to the Star Online in Malaysia. He served in three other ministerial positions in the government before then: second minister of finance, minister of domestic trade and consumer Affairs, and minister of science, technology and innovation.
Datuk Seri Azlin Alias, the private secretary in the Malaysian prime minister's office, was also confirmed by authorities as being among the dead.
It is unclear who contracted or owned the helicopter. Its pilot was Capt. Cliff Fournier, owner of Chempaka Aviation.
“It exploded in midair, not so high from the ground,” Roslan Harun, a 54-year-old security guard who was working a shift near the crash scene, told Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency. “Then, the debris, tail and blades were thrown all over the place. The cause of the crash has yet to be determined.