Technician killed, 2 pilots injured as Army helicopter crashes in Kishtwar district
Jammu: An Army helicopter crashed after a “hard landing” in a forested area in the upper reaches of Kishtwar district on Thursday following a technical fault, killing a technician and injuring the two pilots on board, officials said.
The advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv on an operational mission came down on the banks of a river in Marwah area, cut off from the district headquarters due to heavy snow.
A court of inquiry has been ordered and further details are being ascertained, the Army said in a statement.
Thursday’s crash was the fifth involving Army helicopters in Jammu and Kashmir since 2021.
In a statement, the Udhampur-based Northern Command said, “At about 1115 hours on 04 May 2023, an Army Aviation ALH Dhruv helicopter on an operational mission made a precautionary landing on the banks of Marua river in the Kishtwar region of Jammu and Kashmir.”
The pilots had reported a technical fault to the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and proceeded for a precautionary landing, it said.
“Due to the undulating ground, undergrowth and unprepared landing area, the helicopter apparently made a hard landing. Immediate rescue operations were launched and Army rescue teams reached the site,” the statement said.
The injured were evacuated to the command hospital in Udhampur, where the technician – Craftsman Pabballa Anil – succumbed to his injuries, the Army said.
General Officer Commanding-in-chief of the Northern Command Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi paid rich tributes to the technician.
“#LtGenUpendraDwivedi, #ArmyCdrNC & All Ranks #NorthernCommand offer tribute to supreme sacrifice of CFN (Avn Tech) Pabballa Anil, in the line of duty during operational flying of ALH MK III near #Kishtwar #JammuKashmir & offer deepest condolences to the bereaved family,” the Army’s Northern Command tweeted.
Pabballa Anil, 30, hailed from Rajanna Sircilla district in Telangana.
Defence sources said the condition of both the pilots was “stable”.
Locals in the area rushed to the site and helped rescue the injured men. Some videos showing Kashmiri-speaking locals comforting the injured while they awaited evacuation to hospital drew praises on social media.
The wreckage of the helicopter was found on the banks of the river, said Senior Superintendent of Police, Kishtwar, Khalil Ahmad Poswal.
He had earlier put the time of the incident at around 10.35 am.
For people in the area, helicopters are the only mode of transport during winter. Helicopters are also the only source of supplies, including rations.
There was some confusion earlier in the day over how many people were on board.
The helicopter crash in Kishtwar district was the fifth such incident in Jammu and Kashmir since 2021.
On January 25, 2021, Army helicopter Dhruv crash-landed in Kathua district’s Lakhanpur near Punjab border, killing one pilot and injuring another.
On August 3, 2021, Army aviation squadron’s Rudra helicopter crashed into Ranjit Sagar Dam on Kathua-Pathankot border, killing both the pilots – Lt Col Abheet Singh and Captain Jayant Joshi. While the body of Singh was retrieved from the dam on August 15, Joshi’s mortal remains were fished out on October 17.
On September 21, 2021, the Army’s Cheetah helicopter crash-landed in dense forests near Patnitop in Udhampur district, killing both the pilots – Major Rohit Kumar and Major Anuj Rajput.
On March 11, 2022, the Army’s Cheetah helicopter crashed in the Gurez sector of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, killing its co-pilot Major Sankalp Yadav and injuring the pilot, a Lt Col-rank officer.