17 killed in helicopter crash at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

United News of India

Itanagar, April 19, 2011

At least 17 people, including three crew members and two minors, were killed when a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh minutes before landing today.

There were 18 passengers, including two minors, besides five crew members, Defence sources said adding six were rescued with serious burn injuries.

Sources said the Mi17 helicopter was on its way from Guwahati in Assam to Tawang.

It had taken off from Guwahati at 1245 hours and was scheduled to land at about 1400 hours when the chopper hit a fuel tank near the helipad and crashed, catching fire immediately at around 13.57 hours.

The crew members have been identified as Captain Varun Gupta, Captain A K Tiwary, Flight Engineer P K Chaturvedi, Assistant Maintenance Engineer S B Kulkarni and Flight attendant A Dikshit.

Captain Gupta and Chaturvedi were among the six people rescued.

The rescued were admitted at the Tawang district hospital with serious burn injuries.

A technical snag was suspected to be the cause of the accident, though no official word of confirmation was available.

A Pawan Hans team will arrive from New Delhi to investigate the cause of the accident.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi expressed condolences over the tragedy and wished the injured speedy recovery.

NetIndian News Network adds from New Delhi:

An official statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said the Mi-172 helicopter VT-PHF had crash landed due to likely wind shear and down draft while landing and caught fire on impact on the ground.

It said officers from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had rushed to the site of the accident and an inquiry had been ordered into the crash.

The Director General of Civil Aviation and senior officials would be visiting the scene of the accident tomorrow.

The Government is likely to set up a committee for investigation into the accident.

The helicopter was manufactured in 1996 and its certificate of airworthiness is valid upto August 28 this year, the statement added.