Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), Oct 6: An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crashed on Friday morning in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang district near the China border, killing all seven people on board, officials said. The Russian-manufactured Mi-17 V5 chopper with five IAF and two Army personnel took off from Khirmu and was on its way to Yangtse to drop off kerosene jerry cans at an Army camp of the 10 Madras regiment.
A Defence Ministry official who did not wish to be named told IANS that all the seven personnel were charred to death. "They were supposed to drop kerosene jerry cans at the Army camp. One of the cans opened and got entangled in the tail rotor," an official said. The wreckage was located at Tapugar area, about 130 km away from Tawang. A team of IAF officials from New Delhi flew to the crash site to investigate the cause of the mid-air disaster. An IAF official based at the Eastern Air Command in Shillong said no one knew what led to the chopper crash. "We cannot comment anything on the accident now. Let our investigators from Delhi find out the exact cause," the official told IANS. Meanwhile, all the bodies have been recovered by the IAF and the Army. The dead were identified as Wing Commander B. Upadhyay, Squadron Leader S. Tiwari, Master Warrant Officer A.K. Singh and Sergeants Gautam and Satish Kumar of the IAF and Sepoys H.N. Deka and E. Balaji from the Army Service Corps. The Defence Ministry official said Sepoy Deka jumped from the helicopter in an attempt to save his life but died. All the bodies have been flown to the Tezpur air base in Assam. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said he was shocked to hear the news of the crash. "My deep condolence to the bereaved families... May the departed souls rest in peace," Khandu tweeted. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to establish the cause of the crash. Arunachal Pradesh has had a history of crashes due to frequently changing weather condition. In July, an IAF chopper engaged in a rescue mission during floods crashed near Papum Pare district in the hill state killing four persons including three IAF crew and one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel. In May, two IAF pilots in a Sukhoi-30 jet crashed near the Assam-Arunachal border. IANS