GUWAHATI/ITANAGAR: The wreckage of an Indian Air Force helicopter that had gone missing during a flood rescue sortie on Tuesday was spotted in a deep gorge in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday.
An Arunachal Pradesh police team also spotted the bodies of two of the three crew members. The fate of the third member was not known.
The news agency IANS reported that Wing Commander M S Dhillon was the pilot of the helicopter and the commanding officer of the unit. The two other crew members were Flt Lt P K Singh and Flt Engineer Sgt Gujjar.
Defence sources, however, did not confirm their names.
Arunachal inspector-general of police (law & order) Nabin Payeng told PTI that "the team could not retrieve the bodies as the crash site is located in a deep gorge at the confluence of a waterfall and the Nyorch river."
Arunachal’s director-general of police Sandeep Goel said the search teams were recalled due to darkness. “They will move in again tomorrow (Thursday) morning,” he told The New Indian Express. The location of the wreckage is at Sopo Yuha in Papum Pare district, 4 km from Hostalam.
The helicopter had taken off Tuesday from the Pilputu helipad near Sagalee, also in Papum Pare district, around 13 km from Itanagar. It lost contact with ground staff within minutes of take-off at 3:48 pm. Arunachal and parts of the Northeast have been witnessing heavy rainfall in the past few weeks.
This was the second aircraft crash in Arunachal in 40 days. In the last week of May, a Sukhoi-30 fighter jet, with two pilots on board, crashed along the Assam-Arunachal border.
Arunachal is known for its unpredictable weather. There have been a series of aircraft crashes over the past few years. In 2011, the then chief minister Dorjee Khandu, father of the present chief minister Pema Khandu, and four others were killed when their Pawan Hans chopper crashed in Tawang district.
Following several crashes, commercial chopper services were stopped in Arunachal till 2013 when Pawan Hans restarted its service.