Six IAF men, civilian killed in chopper crash in J-K’s Budgam
The Russian-built chopper crashed at around 10am in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam, some 10 km from the Srinagar International Airport.Updated: Feb 27, 2019 23:13 IST
Six Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel were killed when an Mi-17 transport helicopter crashed in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Wednesday. A civilian, identified as a local resident who happened to be at the site, was also killed in the crash. It was not clear what caused the chopper to plunge to the ground.
The Russian-built chopper crashed at around 10am in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam, some 10 km from the Srinagar International Airport. Local villagers rushed to the area and attempted to save those on board, but could not because the chopper had caught fire. Police, army and air force personnel reached the spot. Additional deputy commissioner of Budgam, Khurshid Ahmad Shah, said that seven bodies had been recovered. “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, happened to be at the site when the crash took place. “The chopper fell some 200 feet away from the nearby habitation,” Shah said. Central Kashmir’s deputy inspector general (DIG) of police, V.K Birdi, said the chopper was in flames when the police, army and air force personnel reached the site. Fire extinguishers were called to douse the 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 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 had been cleared and the wreckage removed. “The Air Force took away the debris,” Shah said. Hundreds of curious onlookers gathered at the crash site, prompting the police to use force to disperse them.
Locals said that they heard two blasts one after another. “We heard a loud bang in the air when we saw the chopper and then another blast when it fell on the ground,” said Liyaqat Mir, a resident of Budgam. “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 there were blasts and everybody ran for their lives,” said Nazir Wani, another villager.
First Published: Feb 27, 2019 22:57 IST