Bad weather forced an Mi-172 Pawan Hans helicopter, with 19 passengers and three crew members on board, to land in a village near Gohpur in Sonitpur area of northern Assam, minutes after it had taken off from Naharlagun in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, on Tuesday morning.
Officials said it was a precautionary landing that had nothing to do with any technical problem.
“The weather turned very bad minutes after the helicopter had taken off from Naharlagun today morning, compelling the pilots to go for a precautionary landing near Gohpur. The chopper waited there for about 30 minutes and then returned to Itanagar because weather on the route ahead remained bad,” Pawan Hans Limited general manager, Sanjay Kumar, who is based in Guwahati, told The Indian Express.
The helicopter had left Naharlagun at 10 am.
Kumar said that the pilots had done a commendable job by finding a suitable spot on a pucca road near Gohpur, where they managed to land safely.
Local witnesses said the helicopter negotiated several high-tension cables as well as local electricity lines to find a suitable location for landing on the Gohpur-Balijan road in Tetonbari village.
Police had a tough time controlling the crowd and clearing the place for a smooth take-off, as hundreds of villagers assembled to see the chopper.
While Pawan Hans connects Itanagar with Guwahati as well as with several interior towns in Arunachal Pradesh, one of its choppers had met with a major accident while landing in Tawang on April 19, 2011, resulting in the death of at least 16 persons. Eleven days later, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had died when another Pawan Hans chopper crashed due to bad weather at Luguthang near Tawang.
Helicopter services in Arunachal Pradesh had been suspended following the two disasters and were finally resumed in January 2013.