Jammu, Aug 03, 2021 : An army chopper Tuesday crashed after developing some technical snag in Kathua district of Jammu division, officials said here.
Officials told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that the chopper crashed at around 11.00 am at Purthu in Basohli, which is a hilly area in Kathua district while the fate of person on-board yet to be unknown as several efforts to trace the whereabouts went in vain.
As per sources, Army’s Rudra helicopter crashed into the Ranjit Sagar Dam lake, the search and rescue crews recovered the wreckage of the chopper along with some pilot gear but the fate of pilot and co-pilot is yet to be known.
Sources said that items recovered by search parties included chopper skids, fuel tanks, stabilizer, helmets and the identity card of one of the two pilots.
The Rudra helicopter, built at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), was carrying out a training sortie that involved low-level flying over the lake, said a second official.
The helicopter belonged to the army’s Pathankot-based 254 ALH-WSI squadron, which lost a Rudra chopper in January 2021. Four Rudra helicopters have been involved in mishaps in as many years.
The Rudra is a weaponised version of the indigenously built advanced light helicopter Dhruv. The army operates six Rudra squadrons with 10 helicopters each.
Search and rescue involved specialized divers and Dhruv and Cheetah helicopters. In the evening, a heavy-lift Chinook helicopter also joined the search.
Locals claimed the chopper used to hover over the dam and drop a pipe into the water every day. The moment it dropped the pipe on Tuesday morning, it crashed, they added.
Meanwhile, Kathua SSP Ramesh Kotwal told reporters that the chopper crashed around 10.45 am. “While deep water divers are on the job, the operation will take time. Police and local boatmen retrieved some floating material from the lake. It will take time to retrieve the entire wreckage. We retrieved two helmets,” he said, adding that the lake was up to 250 feet deep.
“The area where the chopper crashed has been zeroed in. Special Forces of the army, deep water divers are on the job, but the water is not clear,” he said.
Army ambulances, two helicopters, senior army officers and civil administration officials were present on the spot.
Though there were no word from army over the incident but after some news channels claimed that bodies have been recovered from the site officials denied it
“No bodies recovered so far in the search for pilots following today’s Rudra helicopter crash near Pathankot. Search operation to resume in the morning,” the officials said.
“Ranjit Sagar Dam shares border with Punjab, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir, The dam is located about 30 km from Pathankot however, the area where the chopper crashed falls in Kathua district,” the official said—(KNO)