An Arunachal Pradesh police team today spotted the debris of an IAF chopper, which went missing yesterday, in a deep ravine, and also the bodies of two crew members. “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. The third body is yet to be traced,” IGP (Law & Order) Nabin Payeng told PTI, adding, extra ground force would move to the site tomorrow to bring the bodies. The salvaging operations would be taken up again early tomorrow, he said. The team had spotted the debris of the chopper earlier in the day and two search teams were deployed at the reported locations.
One team was led by Papum Pare superintendent of police Tumme Amo comprising 63 personnel from Police Training Centre (PTC) and 17 personnel from ITBP, besides a medical team. The second team was led by deputy superintendent of police Neelam Nega with 61 personnel from PTC and 10 local youths armed with with GPS and WT set. A massive search operation was launched since morning by the Army, Indo Tibetan Border Police along with Arunachal Pradesh Police and India Reserve Battalion to locate the chopper.
The Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) of the IAF engaged in flood rescue mission in the state went missing at 3.50 pm yesterday after it took off from Pilputu Helipad near Sagalee. The helicopter was evacuating people stranded in Sagalee and Dambuk due to massive landslides caused by heavy rains. Tezpur-based Defence spokesperson Lt Col Sombit Ghosh had said that the chopper had gone out for flood rescue operations from its base in Jorhat on Tuesday morning.
Sagalee Additional Deputy Commissioner J Pertin said the IAF helicopter had made five sorties since it arrived there at around 10.30 am yesterday. “In the sixth sortie to Naharlagun the crew for unknown reason did not take the last batch of nine civilians and took off from Sagalee,” he added. Chief Minister Pema Khandu had in a tweet yesterday said that 169 stranded people including women and children were successfully evacuated from flood affected areas of Sagalee and Dambuk by IAF.
Sagalee is north of Itanagar while Dambuk in Lower Dibang Valley district is about 350 km east of here. In May, two pilots of the Indian Air Force in Sukhoi-30 fighter jet crashed near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. In 2015, a Pawan Hans helicopter with three persons on board including Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Joshi, crashed in a dense jungle. Joshi was killed in the crash.
In 2011, the then Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others had died after the Pawan Hans chopper carrying them crashed at a remote location in the state. Another helicopter had crashed a few days before while landing in Tawang killing 16 people. Following the crashes, commercial chopper services were stopped in the state till 2013 when Pawan Hans restarted the service in the state and other parts of the region. It is one of the major lifelines in landlocked and mountainous state.