JAMMU: An Army helicopter crashed after a “hard landing” in a forested area in the upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir’s 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.
“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 Udhampur-based Northern Command said in a statement.
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.
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.