The Prime Minister of Malaysia has expressed his devastation after a helicopter flying guests from his daughter's wedding reception exploded mid-air and crashed, killing six people, including two top government officials.
According to the AFP, the helicopter crashed near Kampung Pasir Baru in Semenyih on Saturday afternoon amid a torrential downpour, immediately killing all passengers. Among the victims were two top government officials: Azlin Alias, who worked on the prime minister's staff, and Jamaluddin Jarjis, former Malaysian ambassador to the United States and chairman of PR1MA Malaysia.
In an emotional Facebook post, Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his shock and devastation at the tragedy and vowed to conduct a full investigation.
"This is a tragedy for the loved ones of the six people who have been lost. My thoughts and prayers are with them all," the PM wrote on Sunday.
"I am personally grief-struck. Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis was my friend of many years - and no truer friend could I have. Dato' Azlin Alias was my Chief of Staff - and a truly outstanding government servant. The contributions of these two men to the government, to UMNO and to Malaysia were very significant. Theirs was an example of national service that we should all emulate.
I have ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the tragedy. It is too early to say why this happened. But no stone will be left unturned.'
After visiting the crash site on Saturday evening, the PM tearfully remembered the contributions to the two men had made to the Malaysian government and country.
"Jamaluddin had played a significant role in building close rapport between Malaysia and the United States," he said, explaining that while he was no longer the U.S. ambassador, Jamaluddin frequently offered him advice and views.
"Therefore his loss is a big tragedy to me and I am deeply saddened by what had happened."
Speaking on Azlin, Najib said, "Personally he had agreed to leave his career in the corporate sector to serve the government as his national service," he said.
"He had worked with full dedication, trust and got along well with everyone, his absence is a great loss for me," he added, "Together with my friends, our prayers are with them and we pray their souls would be among the blessed.'
Meanwhile, the U.S Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday lowered its flag to half-mast in honor of Jamaluddin, recognizing him as a "friend of the U.S." in an image posted on the embassy's Twitter account.
'The strengthening of our bilateral relationship owes much to his creativity, energy and vision. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time," U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun wrote.
The helicopter's flight recorder was found in good condition, reports the AFP, and Malaysian civil aviation authorities are expected to release a preliminary report on the crash within seven days.