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IAF Chopper Ferrying Kerosene Bursts at 17,000 Feet in Tawang, 7 Killed

The mishap happened at an altitude of 17,000 feet when the Mi-17 V5 chopper crew were getting ready to drop kerosene supply at a forward location.

Subhajit Sengupta, Shreya DhoundialSubhajitSG

Updated:October 6, 2017, 3:09 PM IST
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IAF Chopper Ferrying Kerosene Bursts  at 17,000 Feet in Tawang, 7 Killed
File photo of Indian Air Force’s Mi-17 helicopter. (Praveen Negi via Getty Images)
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New Delhi: Five Air Force personnel and two Armymen were killed on Friday when an IAF helicopter ferrying kerosene cans burst into flames in Tawang area of Arunachal Pradesh.

The mishap happened at an altitude of 17,000 feet when the Mi-17 V5 chopper crew were getting ready to drop kerosene supply at a forward location.

While jerry cans of kerosene were being offloaded, the net holding the cans got entangled in the aircraft’s rear rotor, sources said. The chopper caught fire and crashed to the ground, killing all onboard.

When the chopper caught fire, one of the crew members jumped out, but couldn’t survive, sources said.

The chopper crashed at 6am, just 10km from the India-China border.

A Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the crash.

The deceased were identified as Wing Commander Vikram Upadhyay, Squadron Leader S Tiwari, MWO AK Singh, Sergeant Gautam and Sergeant Satish Kumar of the Air Force, and Sepoy E Balaji and Sepoy HN Deka of the Army.

“It’s a sad incident. There can be many reasons that led to the crash. It can be weather or technical issues. It is not right for me to comment before the probe report is out,” said former Army chief and Union minister VK Singh.

The crash comes a day before the IAF celebrates Air Force Day.

"Our losses in the peacetime are a cause of concern. We are making concerted efforts to minimise accidents and preserve our assets," Air Force chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had said on Thursday, referring to a string of crashes of IAF choppers and military jets in recent years.

In July, it was reported that Russia and India are holding negotiations for the supply of 48 Russian Mi-17 military transport helicopters with Moscow hoping to seal the deal by the year end.

According to a PTI report, last year Russia had handed over to India the final batch of three Mi-17 V5 military transport helicopters under a previously signed contract with Rosoboronexport, a company of the Rostec State Corporation, entailing a total of 151 units of the Mi-17 V5 helicopter, produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant.

Designed to transport cargo inside the cabin and on an external sling, the Mi-17 V5 is considered to be one of the world's most advanced military transport helicopters.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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