ITANAGAR/NEW DELHI, Oct 6: An Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday, killing all seven military personnel on board, officials said.
Five IAF personnel, including two pilots, and two army men were killed in the crash near Tawang around 6.30 am.
The chopper had taken off from the Khirmu helipad near Tawang and was on its way to Yangste, said Tawang Superintendent of Police MK Meena.
The Russian manufactured Mi-17 V5 chopper was on an air maintenance mission and was also scheduled to drop off kerosene jerry cans at an Army camp in Yangste, he said.
All the bodies were recovered by a team of the IAF and the Army.
The dead have been identified as Wing Commander Vikram Upadhyay, Squadron Leader S Tiwari, Master Warrant Officer A K Singh, Sgt Gautam and Sgt Satish Kumar of the Air Force and Sepoys E Balaji and HN Deka from the Army.
“The rescue operation was carried out at an altitude of almost 17,000 feet above sea level,” Meena said.
“All the bodies were brought to Khirmu helipad for medical formalities and flown to Tezpur airbase,” he added.
A team of police and district administration officials have left for the crash site to gather more details.
“A court of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” a senior IAF official said in Delhi.
“Our losses in the peacetime are a cause of concern. We are making concerted efforts to minimise accidents and preserve our assets,” Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa had said yesterday, referring to a string of crashes of IAF choppers and military jets in recent years.
Today’s crash comes two days ahead of Air Force Day on October 8 and is the second incident involving IAF helicopters in Arunachal Pradesh in three months.
An Advanced Light Helicopter of the IAF had crashed at Sagalee in Papum Pare district on July 4, claiming the lives of all four on board.
The chopper had been deployed for lifting passengers who were stranded on the Sagalee to Itanagar route due to the road being blocked.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu described the accident very shocking and unfortunate.
While conveying heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family members of those, who have lost their lives in the tragic accident, the Chief Minister urged the local people to extend all possible help to the Army in retrieving the bodies.
The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh B.D. Mishra has also condoled the death of the air force and army personnel. PTI
Timeline of chopper crashes in Arunachal Pradesh since 2010
April 19, 2010: Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed close to Tawang at Bomdir on Friday, November 19, 2010, claiming the lives of 19 people aboard.
April 19, 2011: A Mi17 Pawan Hans chopper crashed while trying to land in Tawang claiming the lives of 17 people.
April 30, 2011: The single-engine, five-seater Pawan Hans chopper carrying CM Dorjee Khandu perished. Five days later, the dead bodies of all five were recovered.
August 12, 2015: Pawan Hans helicopter went missing after taking off from Khonsa in Tirap with DC Kamlesh Joshi and two pilots onboard. All perished in the crash.
May 25, 2017: Two pilots of the Indian Air Force died after a Sukhoi-30 fighter jet crashed near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.
July 4, 2017: A chopper of the IAF went missing near Sagalee while on a relief and rescue operation. Three IAF and one IRBn personnel died.
October 6, 2017: Five IAF crew members and two Army officers killed after an Airforce’s Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed near Tawang.