Underlining the hazards of flying helicopters in the Himalayas particularly in poor weather, a large Indian Air Force helicopter engaged in rescue operations in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand state crashed this afternoon, killing all eight persons on board.
|Indian Air Force helicopter crashes|
This adds a new dimension to a tragedy of truly Himalayan proportions, where floods and consequent landslides could ultimately result in thousands of deaths. Search and rescue operations entered the ninth day today and are still far from complete.
"One Mi-17 V5 chopper on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath while returning from Kedarnath crashed north of Gaurikund," an IAF spokesperson said.
Eight persons onboard, including five crew members, suffered fatal injuries in the mishap, she said in Delhi.
A court of inquiry has been order to investigate the crash, the spokesperson said.
The IAF said its operations in the area will continue.
The Air Force had started inducting Mi-17 V5 choppers into its fleet 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 helicopter carrying relief materials for the rain-affected people in Rudraprayag district had crashed on Sunday near Gaurikund, leaving the pilot injured.
The military is leading efforts to evacuate some 6,000 pilgrims and tourists still stranded throughout the state since the floods hit on 15 June.
Raging rivers swept away houses, buildings and even entire villages in the state, which was packed with travellers in what is a peak tourist season.
About 60 air force helicopters are being used in the rescue efforts.
(See:Rescue helicopters trying to reach thousands stuck in Badrinath)