GUWAHATI: The partially-charred bodies of three of the four occupants of an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter which crashed in Arunachal’s Papum Pare district on Tuesday were retrieved on Thursday, and were brought to Naharlagun, some 12 km from state capital Itanagar.
“The bodies of three of the four people were retrieved from the debris. They were being brought to Naharlagun,” the chief minister’s office (CMO) told The New Indian Express.
“The bodies will be identified upon their arrival at Naharlagun,” the CMO added.
Earlier in the day, Arunachal’s inspector general of police (IGP), Nabin Payeng, had confirmed the death of two persons in the crash. He said both the bodies were charred but identifiable. Defence spokesman Lt Col Sombit Ghosh said a court of inquiry had been ordered into the incident.
The helicopter, deployed to evacuate people stranded due to massive landslides caused by heavy rainfall, had taken off from the Pilputu helipad near Sagalee, also in Papum Pare district, with three crew members and a jawan of India Reserve Battalion (IRB) on board.
The crew members were wing commander MS Dhillon, flight lieutenant PK Singh and flight engineer Sergeant Gujjar. The IRB jawan was identified as Nada Umbing. The helicopter lost contact with the ground staff within minutes after take-off at 3:48 pm on Tuesday.
Mourning the incident, chief minister Pema Khandu said the incident had come as “a shock to people and a pall of gloom descended on the state, which is struggling to come to normalcy after the fury of nature has thrown life out of gear”.
“The brave personnel were on a mission to rescue people stranded due to floods by airlifting them to safer locations. Hundreds of people rescued by the IAF couldn’t even thank enough when this tragedy struck like a bolt from nowhere. They are shattered by the news and mourn the death of their saviours,” Khandu said in a condolence message.