Uttarakhand chopper crash: 20 bodies recovered | Deccan Chronicle
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Uttarakhand chopper crash: 20 bodies recovered

DC Online/PTI | 26th Jun 2013
IAF official and army personnel using a map to search location of an IAF helicopter MI-17 which crashed near Gauri Kund, in Gauchar on Tuesday - PTI
IAF official and army personnel using a map to search location of an IAF helicopter MI-17 which crashed near Gauri Kund, in Gauchar on Tuesday - PTI
 
Gauchar: Air Chief Marshal N.A.K Browne on Wednesday said that all 20 bodies of those who died in a horrific air crash in Uttarakhand on Tuesday were recovered.
 
Speaking to newspersons on his arrival at Dehradun to visit the crash site, the Air Chief Marshal N.A.K Browne said the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder of the ill-fated Mi-17 helicopter were recovered near Gaurikund a day after it crashed during rescue mission. It will be sent to a Chandigarh lab to extract data. 
 
Browne said the rescue mission would continue despite the crash. He added that the pilots have all been well trained, but harsh weather conditions were responsible for the crash.
However, he was unable to visit the crash site due to bad weather.
 
The Mi-17 V5 chopper was on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath and crashed Tuesday afternoon while returning from Kedarnath north of Gaurikund, according to an IAF spokesperson. There were 20 people onboard the ill-fated chopper - five from IAF, six from ITBP and rest from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) sources said.

"Fortunately, we have recovered the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder. And, I think, in a few days' time, we will get to know absolutely as to what exactly happened," Browne told reporters after interacting with IAF officers and men here.

He said that at this juncture, it would be premature for him to comment as to the reason behind the crash - if it was the weather or a technical problem.

Browne said he had been told there were no survivors among the 20 people on board - five from IAF, six from Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and nine from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Air rescue operations on despite overcast sky, low visibility

Asked if the envelope of safety had been pushed, he said, "I won't say that anything was pushed... In the mountains, especially during the monsoon, weather is always an issue. But, at this point of time, we are not quite sure if it was the weather or a technical problem (that led to the crash)."

He said during rescue missions the risk factor is always considered very closely and it is reviewed almost on a daily basis.

The IAF pilots, he said, were highly qualified and absolute competent in carrying out such missions and the morale of the force is extremely high. The performance of the personnel of the IAF and other agencies involved has been 'absolutely marvellous'.

Browne said if the IAF got three to four days of good weather, it will be able to complete its mission.

"If the weather starts improving by Friday or so, then by Monday, Tuesday we should have all this (task) finished," he said. 

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The dead include five IAF officials while the identity of others is being ascertained, they said. The five IAF personnel were a Wing Commander, two Flight Lieutenants, a Junior Warrant Officer and a Sergeant. Their names are as following: Wg Cdr Darryl Castelino, Flt Lt K Praveen, Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor, JWO AK Singh, Sgt Sudhakar Yadav.

Browne, who rushed here Wednesday morning to boost the morale of pilots operating in difficult weather conditions, said after the rescue mission is completed, the Air Force will go into the work of repair of the damaged infrastructure in Uttarakhand for which it would have to bring heavy equipment.

"This kind of work will continue. But, the immediate requirement is to focus ourselves till Tuesday (to bring out the stranded people)," he said.

Browne lauded the local administration for helping the Air Force in carrying out its job. "We will continue with the job till the mission is done. Our pilots are fully trained for this kind of task. But, the weather is always an issue," he added.

The crash occurred in 'difficult' weather conditions created by rains and fog, a senior IAF official said here. The chopper belonged to a unit from Barrackpore Air Force Station in West Bengal under the Eastern Air Command.

Browne expressed profound sorrow over the loss of "warriors" from the IAF, NDRF and ITBP in the chopper crash and said, "Our rotors will not stop churning. That means, we will continue with the job till get the people out."

"...The operations are going to continue. In fact, most of the work has already been done. It is now a question of getting the people out from Badrinath and the Harsil sector," he added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed shock over the loss of lives in the helicopter crash.

"This accident during relief operations has come as a huge shock to me. My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their lives. The nation mourns with me the loss of our heroes whose selfless work has saved thousands of lives," the Prime Minister said on Tuesday.

"Our forces are conducting a heroic task in rescue and relief work in Uttarakhand...Continuing their work would be the best homage to them," he added.

A Court of Inquiry has been order to investigate the crash, the IAF spokesperson said. 

IAF had started inducting Mi-17 V5 choppers only last year after 80 of them were ordered from Russia.

This is the second incident of a helicopter crash this week in the hill state. A private chopper had crashed in Gaurikund area on Sunday leaving the pilot injured.

 

 

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Pictures: Bad weather troubles Uttarakhand rescue operations

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1
ryan raj's picture
by ryan raj (not verified) on
I didn't felt any thing about the uttarakhand flood victims. but I really felt bad of this chopper crash killing 19 people. its a tragedy.....

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