Tawang crash: Relatives say chopper was not fit to fly | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Tawang crash: Relatives say chopper was not fit to fly

Relatives of the Andheri-based Choonawala family that died in the chopper crash at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday alleged that the Pawan Hans owned 23-seater helicopter was not fit to fly.

mumbai Updated: Apr 21, 2011 01:42 IST
HT Correspondent

Relatives of the Andheri-based Choonawala family that died in the chopper crash at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday alleged that the Pawan Hans owned 23-seater helicopter was not fit to fly.

“The Choonawalas were scheduled to take the flight on Monday but the trip was delayed by a day because the chopper encountered a technical snag,” said Rohit Hazarika, a family friend who lives in Guwahati.

Dr Asif Choonawala, a homeopath, his wife and three children died in the accident that killed 17 people near the Tawang helipad. The chopper turned into a ball of fire before crashing near the helipad, located at an altitude of 11,000ft, and then rolled into a 15m gorge, eyewitnesses told officials of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday.

Pawan Hans, however, said that there was no doubt about the airworthiness of the Russian-made MI-172. “The chopper was well maintained and serviceable,” said the Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd spokesperson.

Pawan Hans runs a chopper service five days a week between Guwahati and Tawang.

On Wednesday, an eerie silence enveloped the interiors of Al Noor apartment near the Andheri fish market where the family stayed. “It is shocking. The family had gone there for a vacation,” said a neighbour requesting anonymity.

He added that Dr Choonawala’s elder brother Faruk left for Tawang on Monday and the cremation would be at Guwahati. The deceased homeopath was popular in the vicinity as a spiritual leader. “He has spoken at religious conferences across the world,” said another neighbour.