SA pilot killed in helicopter accident in Angola
Johannesburg - Mining giant BHP Billiton on Sunday suspended its operations in Angola following a helicopter crash in the west African country that killed several leading executives.
"It is with great regret that BHP Billiton confirms a helicopter crash in which five people have died in Angola," said a statement from the company released late on Saturday.
The deceased were BHP's chief operating officer in Angola, Australian David Hopgood, British operations manager Kevin Ayre, another British staffer Guy Sommerfield, Namibian businessman Louwrens Prinsloo, and Kottie Breedt, the South African pilot, the company said.
The crash, which killed all on board the helicopter, occurred on Friday afternoon in bad weather about 80km from a diamond exploration facility in north-eastern Angola that the deceased were visiting.
The company said it had suspended all its operations in Angola.
"Current focus is the safety and well being of the staff.... All operations in Angola have been suspended and an investigation has been launched," the statement said. BHP Billiton is the world's largest diversified miner with more than 100 operations in 25 countries.