IAF Confirms Six Airmen Died In Chopper Crash In J&K's Budgam, The Same Day Abhinandan's Jet Crashed
As the nation is all decked up to celebrate the welcome of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, IAF Spokesperson and Public Relations Officer Anupam Banerjee confirmed that six Indian airmen died in an aircraft crash in Budgam, 27 Km far from Jammu & Kashmir capital Srinagar. The incident happened on the same day Abhinandan plane crashed and he got captured by Pakistan.
The crash took place on February 27 at 10 am, amidst the increasing tension between India and Pakistan. According to the Hindustan Times report, the aircraft that crashed was an Airforce helicopter Mi-17 transport helicopter. The aircraft was built by Russia. The crash happened near Garend Kallan village in Budgam. Indian Air Force released a press release on the same:
On 27 February 2019, one Mi-17 V5 helicopter of Indian Air Force got airborne from Srinagar airfield at 1000 hrs for a routine mission. The helicopter crashed around 1010 hrs near Budgam, J&K. All six air warriors on board the helicopter, suffered fatal injuries. A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident.
Budgam Station House Officer, Rafi Ahmed, who was a part of the crash recovery team also confirmed that six airmen and a civilian died in the crash. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Budgam, Khurshid Ahmad Shah said that a total of seven bodies has been recovered. He further said that the reason for the crash is yet to be known. He also mentioned that there was no other collateral damage.
The civilian who was killed was Kifayat Ahmad Ganai happened to be out in the field when the helicopter hit the ground and burst into flames. Central Kashmir’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police V.K Birdi said that chopper was engulfed in flames when the police, army, and air force personnel reached the site. He further added that fire extinguishers were used to douse the flames. He said that the six charred bodies of airmen were sent to IAF for identification. It is too premature to guess the reason behind the crash, he added.
As of now, it is believed that the crash happened due to technical failure. The administration had cleared the spot and removed the wreckage. One of the locals, Liyaqat Mir said that the pilot tried to take the chopper out of the village. He further said that the locals rushed to the spot to save the men but there was a lot of fire.
Pakistan on the day of the incident said that they are not related to the helicopter crash and had “no engagement with Indian aircraft which crashed on the Indian side (in Budgam)”.
There has not been any talk about the same on media or mention by the government of those who died in the accident afterwards the first press release by IAF.