Katra chopper crash: DGCA team begins probe

The Vaishsnodevi shrine is located at a height of 5,300 feet on the Trikuta Hills. Katra town is 50 Kms away from Jammu.

PTI| Updated: Nov 24, 2015, 18:29 PM IST

Jammu: A team of DGCA on Tuesday began its probe into the chopper crash incident in Katra, the base camp of the Vaishsnodevi shrine in J&K's Reasi district, that left seven pilgrims, including the woman pilot dead.

A Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) team arrived here today and visited the crash spot. They have collected samples from the spot and talked to officials, a senior official of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) said.

The Aircraft Accident Investigating Bureau (AAIB) of DGCA is probing the accident.

The 2010-make chopper of private airliner Himalayan Heli service, which was carrying six pilgrims from Sanjichat helipad in Trikuta hills, crashed at the new bus stand area in Katra yesterday.

In the crash, seven persons including a woman pilot were killed, DIG Udhampur-Reasi Range, Surinder Gupta said.

Talking about the probable reasons behind the unfortunate incident, J&K Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said, "As per initial information, a bird got caught in the tail rotor as a result of which it stopped functioning. Finding the area below populated, the woman pilot chose a safe landing at the new bus stand to avoid casualties on the ground.

"As the plane was descending, its rotors got entwined in electrical wires and caught fire," he said.

Wanhchuk Shamshu, director of the Himalayan Heli service, ruled out bad weather being a cause for the accident.

A separate magisterial probe was ordered by the Jammu and Kashmir government into the incident yesterday.

Reasi District Magistrate Sushma Chauhan will head the probe, the Deputy CM had said.

The deceased have been identified as pilot Sumita Vijayn from Kerala, Arjun Singh, Mahesh and Vandana from Jammu, Sachin, Akshita (5) and Aaryanjeet from Delhi. Those killed also included a newly-wed couple.

The Vaishsnodevi shrine is located at a height of 5,300 feet on the Trikuta Hills. Katra town is 50 Kms away from Jammu.

Nearly one crore people visit the shrine every year, most of them trek the 13 km distance.

There are 100 two-way flights a day to Katara to a place near the shrine and about 1,000 people use the chopper service daily. Two planes of the Himalayan Heli service and choppers of Global Victra operate on this route, Additional CEO of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board Ajit Kumar Sahu said.