Helicopter crashes in northeast India, killing 17

Helicopter crashes in northeast India, killing 17
# 19 April 2011 21:49 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. At least 18 people died and five others were badly burnt on Tuesday when a helicopter crashed and exploded as it came into land in a mountainous region of northeast India, police told AFP, APA reports quoting news.yahoo.com web-page.

"The number of those killed are 18 and five people badly burnt have been taken to hospital in Tawang," said S.B. Singh, police inspector general of Arunachal Pradesh state, lowering the earlier death toll of 20.

"There were 23 people including five crew members on board the helicopter," he added.

"Sixteen bodies have already been taken out (from the wreckage), two more bodies are being taken out and five are in hospital and they are very seriously burnt," he said.

A. Toko, assistant director in Arunachal Pradesh’s civil aviation department, put the death toll from the crash near the border with China at 17.

"We can confirm that 17 people have died in the crash and there are six survivors, including both the pilots, and they have been shifted to hospital with serious injuries," Toko told AFP.

The Russian-designed civilian helicopter in the state’s frontier Tawang region belonged to the government-run Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd., officer Singh said by telephone from the state capital Itanagar.

"People said it exploded in a ball of fire while coming in to land in Tawang," Singh said, citing witnesses on the ground.

Two of the five injured survivors were crew members, he said.

There were two children on board the helicopter when it crashed. Their condition is unknown.

The Indian army, which has thousands of soldiers in Arunachal Pradesh, deployed 100 troopers for rescue and salvage operations, a senior officer said from Kolkata, the military’s eastern headquarters.

Pawan Hans Helicopters operates daily chopper services between Guwahati and Tawang and other remote locations in Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of the northeast.

In November last year, 12 army personnel died when a Russian-made Mi-17 military helicopter crashed after take-off near Tawang, which is situated close to the heavily fortified India-China border.

An unresolved dispute over the border triggered a brief but bloody war between China and India in 1962.

India says China is illegally occupying 38,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles) of its territory, while Beijing claims 90,000 square kilometres or the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.
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