12 defence personnel killed as IAF chopper crashes in Arunachal (Lead, changing dateline)

Friday, November 19, 2010

TAWANG - Twelve Indian defence personnel - 11 of them from the air force - were killed in a helicopter crash Friday in Arunachal Pradesh close to the Chinese border, officials said.

A defence spokesperson said the MI-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed around midday soon after take off from Tawang, perched at an altitude of about 14,000 feet.

“The helicopter with 12 people on board crashed into a hill and all the bodies were recovered from a place called Bombdir close to Tawang,” defence spokesperson R. Kalia told IANS.

Eleven of the victims were from the IAF and one was from the Indian Army.

“The helicopter took off from Tawang and was on way to (Assam’s main city) Guwahati when it crashed soon after take off,” the official said. Most of the victims were posted in border posts along China’s Tibet region.

The IAF has ordered an enquiry into the crash.

“We don’t know the circumstances leading to the crash and only experts would be able to give us an idea of what went wrong,” Kalia said.

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