Two pilots killed as chopper crashes into Nashik locality


Nashik (Maharashtra) : Two army majors were killed when the chopper they were flying crashed in a residential area here, minutes after take off from an army base Wednesday morning, police said.

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This is India’s first military air crash of the year.

The Cheetah helicopter, carrying Major Atul Gargi and Major Bhanu Chander, had taken off at around 9 a.m. and, within 15 minutes, crashed in a residential area in the city.

However, no civilian casualty or damage to property was reported, officials at the army headquarters in New Delhi said.

The two pilots died on the spot, local police said.

The chopper crashed on a shed constructed within the compound of a private bungalow in the Jai Bhavani Nagar area, police said.

The army has ordered a probe into the cause of the accident. Preliminary investigations suggest the chopper’s rotors developed a snag within minutes of the take-off.

Top district officials, including Nashik MP Sameer Bhujbal, and defence officials from the nearby Deolali Camp have rushed to the crash site.

The entire accident site is now out of bounds to facilitate the probe by defence authorities and the police.

In 2010, the Indian armed forces suffered nearly a dozen air accidents, including an Indian Air Force’s Cheetah helicopter which crash landed in the Siachen glacier in the second week of November.

A total of 60 aircraft, including MiG-21 and helicopters have crashed in the past three years, killing 43 personnel of the services and five civilians.