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‘Merkel’s helicopter’ almost crashed

A helicopter used by German Chancellor Angela Merkel came close to crashing last week when both engines failed just after she had disembarked, a government spokesman said Sunday.

The Super Puma 332, which reportedly only entered service in December, suffered double engine failure at an altitude of 1,600 metres (5,250 feet) on Wednesday in southern Germany, the spokesman said.

According to the Bild am Sonntag weekly, the pilots only managed to get the engines going again a few hundred metres from the ground as the helicopter plunged downwards.

The incident happened on a flight between Offenburg, where Merkel alighted to campaign for an upcoming local election, and Oberschleissheim near Munich, the paper said.

"It is a precarious situation when both engines fail one after the other," an unnamed policeman told the Bild am Sonntag. "The crew followed the checklist exactly as they should do and restarted the engines."