IAF launches probe, incident took place 200 meters away from habitation, say locals
Srinagar, February 27: Six Indian Air Force personnel and a civilian were killed Wednesday morning when a Mi-17 transport helicopter crashed in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Top defence sources said that 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.
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 told KNO. 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 Lateef 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.
Meanwhile, IAF through a statement issued by the press information bureau stated that six IAF warriors on board the helicopter received fatal injuries and that an inquiry has been ordered to investigate the incident