Partially charred bodies of three persons who were on board an IAF chopper that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh were recovered on Thursday, official sources in Itanagar said. Search is on for the body of the fourth occupant who was on board when the ill-fated chopper crashed due to inclement weather on Tuesday.
“Three bodies have been retrieved from the debris while search for the fourth is still on,” Sandeep Goel, DGP Arunachal Pradesh, said in Itanagar. The three IAF crew members who were on board the ill-fated chopper were Wing Commander MS Dhillon, the pilot, Flight Lieutenant PK Singh and Flight Engineer Sergeant Gujjar.
The fourth occupant has been identified as Nada Umbing, an IRB man from Hija village in Lower Subansiri district. He was deployed in Papum Pare district to evacuate people stranded due to landslides.
The wreckage of the IAF chopper was first sighted in the Sopo Yuha area on Wednesday morning by residents of Hostalam. A group of local youth had trekked down a deep gorge to reach the crash site, and sent out the first visuals taken with their mobile phone cameras. The crash site, where a waterfall meets a river between two mountain ranges, is about 30 km north of Itanagar.
According to Papum Pare SP Tumme Amo, a rescue team comprising 14 police personnel and some local boys later spotted two of the charred bodies on Wednesday evening. “But they could not explore further due to early darkness, and camped nearby during the night to resume the search early Thursday morning,” he said.
Another group comprising NDRF personnel, Army jawans, IAF personnel and a medical team, along with more police personnel, began their march from the nearest village at 4 AM on Thursday and reached the spot at around 9 AM.
The chopper was requisitioned for evacuation of persons stranded in Sagalee in Papum Pare district after the road to Seppa was washed off by landslides triggered by heavy rains on Saturday, had airlifted 52 persons in five trips on Tuesday before crashing. “They made the ultimate sacrifice while saving lives,” Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu in a message said.