12:28 GMT27 January 2020
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    A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk crashed after it took off from an aviation facility in Minnesota for a planned maintenance test flight, a state National Guard official confirmed Thursday.

    Minnesota National Guard Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens confirmed Thursday evening that the aircraft crashed near Pearl Lake after it losing communication with the base, resulting in the death of three Minnesota National Guardsmen.

    According to Army Col. Joe Sharkey, director of communications for the Minnesota National Guard, the chopper lost communication with the ground roughly nine minutes after taking off from the Army aviation facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota at around 1:55 p.m. local time.

    “Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our Guardsmen and our thoughts are with our soldiers and their families at this time,” Heusdens said in a statement before the crash was confirmed, NBC15 reported.

    Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has canceled a tree-lighting ceremony scheduled for Thursday and is in contact with the National Guard, according to reports.

    The St. Paul Fire Department deployed a rescue squadron in search of the missing aircraft in response to the reports.



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