A helicopter carrying Director-General of Punjab Rangers Major-General Mohammad Nawaz and three others, including his son, crashed into the Indus River near Layyah district on Wednesday. Though only two bodies have been recovered, it is believed that the crash killed all on board.
Maj-Gen. Nawaz, was on his way to Kashmore from Dera Ghazi Khan in the Punjab Rangers’ helicopter to inspect his troops when the helicopter crashed in Bakhri Ahmed Khan union council.
The three other people onboard the helicopter were identified as Asif Nawaz (the director general’s son, who was also his ADC), Colonel Amir Abbas (the pilot) and Subedar Ibadullah (a technician).
The helicopter is reported to have lost contact with the control tower at 10 am after it was forced to change course and head to Multan because of bad weather. The helicopter aborted a landing before it caught fire as it tried to gain altitude before crashing into the Indus River, eyewitnesses and police officials said.
Two corpses have so far been recovered and one of them was identified as that of Asif Nawaz. Both bodies were later flown to the Combined Military Hospital in Multan.
The rescue team managed to salvage 90 per cent of the rotorcraft’s wreckage from the crash site, including the helicopter’s control panel and ‘black box’. Rescuers said they had also recovered the major-general’s cap.
Earlier, security officials launched a rescue operation, for which engineers and divers from Mangla were flown in to help. However, all rescue efforts were suspended later at night, while nets were placed in different areas along the river.
Officials said the rescue operation, which was being hampered by rapid water flow, would resume after dawn on Thursday.
The gates of Taunsa Barrage, 35 kilometres from the area, had also been closed to help with the recovery effort.
Hailing from Chiniot, Maj-Gen. Nawaz had been commissioned in the army in 1979, and had taken charge as DG Rangers five months ago. He had been actively involved in flood rehabilitation and reconstruction in the flood-hit areas.
He is survived by four children.
The helicopter’s pilot, Colonel Abbas, hailed from Rahimpur, a village near Uggoki. He was the eighth among 10 siblings. He has left behind a grieving wife, a seven-year-old daughter, a four-year-old son, a father, two brothers and seven sisters. Almost two-and-a-half years ago, Col Abbas was transferred to the Chenab Rangers from the Army Aviation.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JUNAID AFTAB IN SIALKOT)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ