Mutilated bodies found near chopper crash site in Arunachal, IAF uncertain

IAF officials in New Delhi said it was not certain if it was of the helicopter that went missing on Tuesday while engaged in flood evacuation.

Itanagar: A search and rescue team of the Arunachal Police on Wednesday said it has found the wreckage of the missing IAF helicopter and two mutilated bodies near it. The IAF however said it was not certain if the debris was of its missing Advanced Light Helicopter.

An official of the Papua Pare district sent a radio message to state Chief Secretary Shakuntala Gamlin and other officials in Itanagar, saying that the wreckage of the Indian Air Force helicopter had been spotted at an inaccessible deep gorge at Sopo Yuha about 3 p.m.

The crash site is near Hostalam village, about 30 km from Itanagar.

"We have located the wreckage and two mutilated bodies of the crew members in a deep gorge near the waterfalls," said Inspector General of Police, Law and Order, Nabin Payeng.

Although, the wreckage has been spotted by IAF team aerial survey, the IAF ground party are yet to reach the wreckage site to ascertain it.

IAF officials in New Delhi said it was not certain if it was of the helicopter that went missing on Tuesday while engaged in flood evacuation.

"The search is continuing. Certain leads that the ground parties obtained will be intensively searched once the weather clears tomorrow," an IAF official said.

In Tezpur, defence spokesperson, Lt Col Sombit Ghosh said that the IAF which conducted an aerial survey had "spotted something" which could be of the helicopter.

"We cannot confirm anything to you as yet. Let the IAF search and rescue operation team in the ground reach the spot and ascertain what it is," Ghosh told IANS.

"We have not issue any official photographs of the wreckage. We are not aware of the source of the photograph that has been flashed in the social media and media," he said.

The chopper went missing on Tuesday at 3.50 p.m. after it took off from Pilputu Helipad near Sagalee for the Naharlagun heliport.

The helicopter was evacuating people stranded in Sagalee and Dambuk due to massive landslides caused by heavy rains.

Papum Pare district official J.Pertin said the helicopter, used to evacuate people stranded due to floods in Sagalee, had made five sorties since it arrived there at around 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday.

"In the sixth sortie to Naharlagun, for unknown reason, the crew did not take the last batch of nine civilians and took off from Sagalee with just one policeman, who was deployed to help the two crew members and then went missing," Pertin told IANS.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted that 169 persons had been evacuated from Sagalee and Dambuk by the Indian Air Force during the day till then.

Sagalee is just north of Itanagar while Dambuk in Lower Dibang Valley is about 350 km east of the state capital.

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