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UPDATE: 3 Minnesota National Guard soldiers dead in helicopter crash near St. Cloud

UPDATE: 3 Minnesota National Guard soldiers dead in helicopter crash near St. Cloud Photo: Chopper 5

Updated: December 05, 2019 10:12 PM

All three people aboard a Minnesota National Guard helicopter died after it crashed Thursday afternoon.

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St. Paul Fire and the Minnesota National Guard confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS shortly before 5 p.m. that a missing National Guard helicopter has been found after officials lost contact with it.

Crews were on scene of the crash site approximately 16 miles southwest of St. Cloud near Marty Township Thursday afternoon and evening.

Minnesota state leaders react to helicopter crash that killed 3 National Guard soldiers

The National Guard said it lost contact with the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at about 2:05 p.m. while it was conducting a maintenance test flight that originated in St. Cloud. According to a KSTP source, a mayday call came in nine or 10 minutes after it took off. The National Guard initially said it lost contact with the helicopter shortly after 3 p.m.

The St. Paul Fire Department said its Rescue Squad 3 team was deployed at about 2:46 p.m. in support of a Minnesota Aviation Rescue Team (MART) activation. The department said it was responding to a report of an aircraft down near St. Cloud following a mayday.

Volunteers support first responders and military families after deadly helicopter crash in Marty

The Minnesota State Patrol, which also assists in MART activations, said a State Patrol Cirrus aircraft equipped with thermal imaging cameras was helping in the search for the aircraft.

At a press conference Thursday night, Gov. Tim Walz confirmed the entire crew was killed in the crash. Their identities are not being released at this time pending notification of family.

"On behalf of all Minnesotans, we offer our deepest sympathies to the families of these warriors, they paid the ultimate price in their service to Minnesota and the United States of America," Walz said. "Words will never ease the pain of this tragic loss and the State of Minnesota is forever in the debt of these warriors."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Authorities said they will be at scene of the crash for multiple days investigating.

"Our Minnesota National Guard family is devastated by the deaths of these soldiers," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "Our priority right now is ensuring that our families are taken care of."

At this time, no other details have been confirmed.

You can see Thursday night's full press conference below.

This is a developing story. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is working to confirm more information at this time.

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