6 IAF personnel killed in Mi-17 crash near Srinagar airport
Six Indian Air Force personnel were killed Wednesday morning when a Mi-17 transport helicopter in crashed in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. A civilian was also killed in the crash.
The chopper crashed at around 10 am in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam, some 10 km from the Srinagar International Airport.
Villagers rushed to the area and made attempts to save those on board but could not as the helicopter was on fire. Soon police, army and air force personnel rushed to the spot.
Additional deputy commissioner Budgam, Khurshid Ahmad Shah said that they have recovered seven dead bodies near the crash site of Mi-17.
“It was not clear how the chopper crashed. Seven persons have died of which six were IAF personnel on board the helicopter while one was a civilian of the village. There was no other collateral damage,” Shah said.
He said the civilian, Kifayat Ahmad Ganai, was by chance there when the chopper fell. “The chopper fell some 200 feet away from the nearby habitation,” he said.
Central Kashmir’s deputy inspector general (DIG) of police, V.K Birdi said they reached the spot immediately after hearing the sound and found that the chopper was in flames.
“The bodies were charred. Six of them were IAF personnel and one was a civilian. We have given the bodies to IAF and their identification will be done in due course,” he said.
On why the chopper crashed, Birdi said that it was a matter of investigation. “It will be premature to say anything. Circumstances of the incident are being inquired into,” Birdi said.
The administration said that the spot was cleared after debris was removed. “The Air Force took away the debris,” Shah said.
Owing to the curiosity hundreds of people gathered at the spot prompting the forces to use force to disperse them.
Locals said that they heard two blasts one after another. “We heard a loud bang in air when we saw the chopper and then another blast when it fell on ground,” said Liyaqat Mir, a resident of Budgam.
Another villager Nazir Wani said that they heard the blast in sky and saw the aircraft on fire.
“The pilot tried a lot to maneuver the aircraft out of the village area and into a field and we also rushed there to save the pilot. There was so much fire that we could not save him. Then again there were blasts and everybody ran for their lives,” Wani said.
Another local said that they picked up a dead body and threw water over it. “Many people tried to help till police reached the spot,” he said.
Watch | Six IAF personnel, one civilian killed after Mi-17 chopper crashes in Budgam district