RANJU DODUM | 6 JULY, 2017
ITANAGAR: Wreckage from the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter that went missing on Tuesday in Arunachal Pradesh has been found at a remote location near the state capital, Itanagar.
A Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter with four people onboard, including two pilots, one crew member and an IRBn jawan, was on a flood relief mission.
Incessant rains have caused landslides and flooding in several parts of the state. The helicopter had taken off from Sagalee in Papum Pare district for Naharlagun heliport after completing a rescue operation and lost communication with the Air Traffic Control in Chabua, Assam at around 4 PM.
While search operations had begun yesterday, rescue teams could not locate the helicopter until this afternoon. Official sources, however, confirmed that wreckage from the helicopter was found today.
According to an official communication, wreckage from the missing helicopter was spotted by 3 PM today “in an accessible deep gorge at Sopo Yuha area 4 KM approximately from Hostalam(sic)”.
Hostalam is a village located around 30KM from Itanagar but is not connected by a highway. Sources said that villagers from the area played a key role in locating the wreckage.
Official sources confirmed that two bodies were recovered from the site while the fate of the other two was not known at the time of filing this report.
This is not the first instance of a fatal helicopter crash in the state. Due to weather conditions and mountainous topography of the state, helicopter flights are often cancelled or make emergency landings. In fact, yesterday a BSF helicopter with Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, onboard had to make an emergency landing at a polytechnic institute in Itanagar due to bad weather.
On April 2011, five people including then Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, Dorjee Khandu, died when a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed near Tawang. This incident occurred just days after another helicopter with 23 people onboard crashed near the same area.