Saturday, October 31, 2009

Four feared killed in IAF chopper crash



An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed and plunged into the Chenab at Trungal in Doda district today. The rotors of the ill-fated chopper got entangled in the cable of a ropeway hung by the locals to cross the river.

Although the authorities have yet not confirmed the total causalities in the tragic incident, all four crew members on board were feared killed, as the chopper was drowned into the reservoir of the Baglihar hydroelectric project. Only one body has been recovered so far and the rescue operation is going on.

MI 17 IV chopper is a Russian made helicopter with a good flying record. It is considered the life line for the residents of inaccessible areas of the region. A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

Deepak Kumar, DIG, Doda-Ramban range, told The Tribune that the IAF chopper, which was on a regular sortie, was flying over the reservoir of the Baglihar hydroelectric project on the Chenab when it got entangled in the cable of a ropeway at Trungal village.
It crashed and plunged into the Chenab.

Quoting the IAF authorities, the DIG further informed that four crew members were on board and only one body had been recovered. He said a team of divers from the Civil Defence had been pressed into service.

Rajdeep Singh, an eyewitness, said over the phone that he along with some locals was standing on the opposite side of Trungal village when the incident took place. "The chopper was coming from the Batote side when it crashed and plunged into the river with a big bang," said Rajdeep, who ferries passengers on the Chenab from Trungal to Zangli. He said he along with five other villagers were the first to reach the spot. "A badly mutilated body was lying on the bank of the river," he added. Although the authorities had not disclosed the identity of those who were on board, sources said the body of Wing Commander Garh had been recovered.

Although senior officers are tight-lipped over the incident, the sources said the ill-fated chopper was returning from the Nawapachi area of Kishtwar district. The IAF carries regular sorties to the mountain-locked Nawapachi area to transport ration, arms and ammunition for the troops stationed there. The IAF also provides assistance to the civil administration in supplying ration and other essential commodities in times of crisis.

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