Two Army officers were killed when their helicopter crashed and exploded near the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL) dam in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday.
Lieutenant Colonel J.M.P. D'Cunha, 41, and Major Puneet Karol, 28, were on a regular reconnaissance flight from Karcham to Bhawanagar in the district when their helicopter got entangled in power chords used to carry trolleys on the dam while trying to land at the SJVNL helipad. Army Havaldar Leela Dhar, who was on duty at the helipad, said the Cheetah's wings got separated and it crashed into a hill and exploded.
District police and army officials rushed to the site and managed to retrieve the badly burnt bodies of the two officers. The debris of the helicopter was spread over a large area, the police said.
Kinnaur deputy commissioner B.R. Verma said the bodies would be handed over to army officials after post-mortem. He said the district administration and army have ordered inquiries to ascertain the cause of the accident.
Governor V.S. Kokje and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed grief over the incident.
In Faridabad near Delhi, Lieutenant Colonel D'Cunha's house saw a steady stream of friends and relatives who came to console his elderly parents. “My son had a focused approach to everything in life. He was soft spoken and had a humorous side to him,” recalled his father Jerald D’Cunha. “When my son showed an interest in the army, I encouraged him. We were so proud when he donned his uniform".