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Army chopper with four crew members missing in northeast India

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, April 21, IRNA -- An Indian Army helicopter with two pilots and two soldiers went missing Thursday while flying over north Sikkim, triggering concerns over the fate of the machine and the personnel.

The Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv helicopter of the Army Aviation Corps had taken off from Sewak Road Base in Siliguri at 1030 hours IST (Indian Standard Time), PTI news agency cited sources as saying.

It lost radio contact at around 1130 hours IST, the sources said adding efforts are on to locate it.

The Base is under the 33 Corps Headquarters based in Siliguri.

Dhruv is an indigenously-developed helicopter inducted in the army only recently.

Meanwhile, at least 66 persons, including ministers, legislators, senior government officials and pilots have been killed in air crashes in northeast India over past 10 years.

At least 47 (of the 66 killed in plane and helicopter crashes) were killed in Arunachal Pradesh alone during last decade, official sources said on Thursday.

The highest number of 17 people were killed when the M-17 helicopter crashed with 23 passengers, including five crew members of Pawan Hans, at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

The chopper had crashed near Tawang monastery as it was about to land killing the 17, including two children and three crew members, besides injuring 6 others.

On November 19 last year, 12 people, including 11 Indian Air Force (IAF) officials (two of them pilots) and one army officer, were killed when an IAF M-17 helicopter crashed at Bomdir bordering China minutes after the copter took off from Tawang helipad on way to Guwahati.

The sources said another 13 passengers, including a pilot were killed when an IAF AN-32 aircraft crashed on way to Jorhat in Assam from Machuka near Arunachal Pradesh border on June 9 last year.

At the same time an army helicopter (Chetak) had also crashed killing three persons near Kohima in Nagaland.

Earlier in 2004, another Pawn Hans helicopter travelling from Guwahati to Shillong crashed killing 16 passengers, including three legislators of the region, the sources said.

In 2002, a Pawn Hans helicopter crashed near Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh killing five persons, including the state's education minister Dera Natung, secretary education Sanjay Ladung and a union human resources development deputy secretary, as well as two pilots.

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Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30350259



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