LATEST: Helicopter carrying President catches fire, army and Office of the President issue statement

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Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi has survived a potential helicopter crush in the country's second largest city Francistown on Saturday.

Botswana Defence Force and the Office of the President on Saturday issued a statement stating that the presidential helicopter was forced to make an immediate precautionary landing while taxiing at Francistown airport upon arrival from Mathangwane.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi

"While taxiing for landing at Francistown Airport, the pilots reported an engine fire indication where upon they promptly executed an engine shut down and landing on runway 13 at the airport," said the statement, adding that the emergency response at Francistown Airport also responded to provide assistance with fire retardant foam.

The statement further said all five passengers including Mokgweetsi Masisi and the three aircrew members are safe and without injuries.

"The BDF wishes to assure the nation that all required maintenance and safety procedures are taken to assure the safe passage of His Excellency the President as well as any other principles in their care. The same care is taken for the safe operation of all BDF flights regardless of who is on-board."the statement said.

Meanwhile the statement said resident Masisi has ordered an investigation through a board of inquiry to determine the cause of the engine fire, the actions of the aircrews and all other circumstances surrounding this incident.

However, Botswana’s opposition has likened the scenario to a stunt by the president who is forcing a torrid time ahead of the October 9 general elections.

“This could be his stunt, he wants sympathy votes because he is out of favor,” an opposition source told Nile Post.

— Xinhua


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