Army helicopter goes missing in north Sikkim

An Army helicopter with two pilots and two soldiers on board went missing during routine training exercise while flying over north Sikkim near the Chinese border with inclement weather stalling search operations.

Last Updated: Apr 21, 2011, 18:36 PM IST

Gangtok: An Army helicopter with two
pilots and two soldiers on board went missing on Thursday during
routine training exercise while flying over north Sikkim near
the Chinese border with inclement weather stalling search
operations.

The Advance Light Helicopter `Dhruv` of Army Aviation
Corps had taken off from the Sewak Road Base in Siliguri in
West Bengal, from where the Army conducts its routine training
exercise to Sikkim`s borders with China, at 10.30 am, defence
sources here said.

It lost radio contact around 11.30 am, they said.

The chopper went down about 15,000 feet above ground
near the Yumisamdong area which is now under a thick blanket
of snow and covered with dense forest.

The area is around 15 km above above Lachung village
in north Sikkim.

The Army launched a massive search operation but after
about five hours, the search was postponed due to inclement
weather.

In view of the heavy snow in the area and inaccessible
terrain, the aerial search is the only option to trace the
chopper, the sources said.

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

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

The routine training exercise of the Army is a regular
affair and flights are launched from the Army helipad at
Bagdogra and go into `undisclosed` territory landing in bases
which are `unidentified`.

The sources ruled out the possibility of the chopper
being shot down since international border rules are always
maintained by both sides.

PTI