ITANAGAR, Mar 16: Two pilots lost their lives in a helicopter crash in West Kameng on Thursday morning when an Army chopper, which took off from Senge village helipad en route to Missamari in Sonitpur district of Assam, said high-level sources from West Kameng district.
According to defence sources, it was a Cheetah helicopter of the Army.
West Kameng Superintendent of Police B. Bharat Reddy when contacted said, “As per information, one Army chopper took off from Senge village at 9 am today and was en route to Missamari ETA at 9:45 am. But it lost contact midway and could not be located.”
“At 12:30 pm, information was received from villagers of Bangjalep under Dirang police station area that a crashed chopper was located and was still burning. Search and rescue teams of the Army, SSB and police immediately left for the spot. The area has no signal. And the weather today was extremely foggy and visibility was 5 metres,” the SP said.
Two pilots onboard were found dead, who were identified as Lt Col Vinay Vanu Reddy, pilot and co-pilot Maj Jayanth A. of 41 R&O Flt, said the SP.
Later, the bodies of the 2 pilots were recovered from the spot and brought to Dirang.
As per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order, the crashes of defence conveyances are to be investigated by military personnel and civilian inquest is not required. Hence, the bodies have been handed over to the concerned unit Commander, the SP added.
The SP further said Brokpas of Bangjalep and nearby villages had first sighted the chopper and searched for the survivors.
The SSB and Army personnel, who were nearest to the place of incident, reached the spot at the earliest. It was with help of all the departments that the crash site could be located and the bodies were recovered before the sunset, he informed.
PTI adds: Defence spokesperson Lt Colonel Mahendra Rawat said in Guwahati that the helicopter was on an operational sortie from Missamari in Assam’s Sonitpur district to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
The flight encountered “inconducive weather” and was returning to Missamari when it crashed, he said.
“The helicopter lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) around 9.15 am. Five search parties of the Indian Army, SSB and ITBP were immediately launched. The wreckage of the aircraft was found near Banglajaap east village of Mandala,” Rawat said.
“A Court of Inquiry is ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” he added.
Rohit Rajbir Singh, the Superintendent of Police, Special Investigation Cell (SIC), said villagers had found the crashed chopper ablaze in Dirang, and informed district officials.“Villagers from Bangjalep at Dirang located the chopper around 12.30 pm,” Singh said. The area has no mobile connectivity and the weather is extremely foggy with visibility as low as five meters, he added.