6 IAF personnel, civilian die in MI-17 crash

Wreckage of MI-17 lying at the site of crash in Budgam on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Shakeel
Wreckage of MI-17 lying at the site of crash in Budgam on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Shakeel

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Feb 27: Six Indian Air Force personnel and a civilian died this morning when an Mi-17 helicopter crashed in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district today.
The chopper crashed at around 10 am in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam, some 10 kilometers from the Srinagar International Airport.
Residents said that they saw the copter in flames and later crashed in open fields in Garend Kalan in district Budgam. The locals informed the Police and army from nearby unit rushed to the site but the bodies were already charred.

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Police, army and Air Force personnel rushed to the spot and the site was cordoned off immediately as the locals had reached the site who founded half burnt bodies at the site and crashed copter on fire.
Seven persons have died of which six were IAF personnel on board the helicopter while one was a civilian of the village. However, there was no other collateral damage. The civilian, Kifayat Ahmad Ganai, was out in the fields when the chopper crashed. The chopper fell some 200 feet away from the nearby habitation.
Central Kashmir’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, VK 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. The Air Force took away the debris.
The officials said that it was premature to say anything about the cause of the crash. However, the officials said that they are investigating the circumstances that led to the crash.
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 down,” said Abdul Rashid, a resident of the area.
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.