Itanagar, July 5, 2017: A massive ground search operation is on for the second day on Wednesday in Arunachal Pradesh for a missing Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter, which was on a flood victim rescue mission, with three operating crews on board, an official said.
The police chief of Arunachal Pradesh, Sandeep Goel told media that “Rescue teams from the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police along with state police were trekking through the jungle and hill areas between Yupia and Hoj Telam in Papum Pare district to locate the missing chopper.”
Meanwhile, police personnel quoting eyewitnesses said the helicopter may have crashed at Hostalam between Borum and Toru area.
The Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) of the IAF engaged in flood rescue mission in the state lost contact soon after take off from Pilputu Helipad near Sagalee for the Naharlagun heliport at 3.50 p.m., Defence PRO Lt Col Sambit Ghosh said.
The helicopter was evacuating people stranded in Sagalee and Dambuk due to massive landslides caused by heavy rains.
Tezpur-based Defence spokesperson Lt Col Sombit Ghosh said the chopper had gone out for flood rescue operations from its base in Jorhat on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Pema Khandu had said in a tweet:
Successfully evacuated 169 stranded people that include women, children from flood affected areas of Sagalee n Dambuk through @IAF_MCC.
— Pema Khandu པདྨ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་། (@PemaKhanduBJP) July 4, 2017
“Successfully evacuated 169 stranded people that include women, children from flood affected areas of Sagalee and Dambuk through IAF,” Khandu said.
Sagalee is just north of Itanagar, Dambuk in Lower Dibang Valley is about 350 km east of here.
In May, two pilots of the Indian Air Force in Sukhoi-30 fighter jet crashed near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.
In 2015, a Pawan Hans helicopter with three persons on board, including Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Joshi, crashed in a dense jungle. Joshi was killed in the crash.
In 2011, the then Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others died after their Pawan Hans chopper crashed at a remote location in the state.
A few days later, another helicopter crashed while landing in Tawang, killing 16 people.
Following the crashes, commercial chopper services were stopped in the state till 2013 when Pawan Hans restarted the service in Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of the region.
Pawan Hans Helicopter Services Limited (PHHL) has been operating chopper services across Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and daily Guwahati-Tawang services for over 15 years.
It is one of the major lifelines in the landlocked and mountainous Arunachal Pradesh.