Copter with army general on board goes missing

Aviation helicopter, which was on flood relief operations in Lasbela, lost contact with ATC, says ISPR


Our Correspondent August 01, 2022
All four civilian employees on board died in the crash, the outlet added. Photo: Anadolu Agency/File

ISLAMABAD:

A Pakistan Army aviation helicopter -- which was on flood relief operations in Balochistan’s Lasbela -- went missing on Monday after it lost contact with air traffic control (ATC), the military’s media arm said in a statement on Monday.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said as many as six individuals, including Commander 12 Corps Lieutenant General Sarfraz Ali who was supervising relief operations in the flood-hit province, were on board.

“Search operation is underway,” it added. It is reported that the helicopter might have crashed and the chances of survival of all on board were slim. However; there was no official confirmation of the crash from the military's media wing till the filing of this report.

Army troops, police and other rescue teams were busy, searching the helicopter but hilly area and damaged roads due to floods hampering the operation.

According to details, the helicopter took off from Uthal at around 5:10pm and was supposed to land in Karachi at 6:05pm, but the chopper lost contact with the air traffic controller. The search operation had been going for the last six hours. Rescue mission was hampered by the damage caused to the road infrastructure due to the ongoing flooding.

General Sarfraz, the commander, southern command, was one of the contenders interviewed by former prime minister Imran Khan for the post of director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in October last year.

He served as Pakistan's defence attaché in the United States.

The report of missing chopper was met with shock, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan praying for the safety of all the passengers.

Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps and Pakistan Navy have been conducting rescue operations in the province after deadly floods wreaked havoc there killing at least 132 people.

According to the latest PDMA report, several roads and bridges were washed away by floods disconnecting Lasbela and Sindh.

Prime Minister Shehbaz on Monday also visited flood-hit areas of Balochistan, including Qilla Saifullah, Chaman, and Quetta to supervise the relief operation and get a first-hand account of the damage caused by record monsoon rains.

The army has also been involved in the rescue and relief mission. Even the army struggled to carry out relief operations initially through helicopters because of bad weather. Damaged roads and other infrastructure also made it difficult for the authorities concerned to have access to all the affected areas.

The monsoon rains this season have broken the 30-year record. The rains have caused havoc starting from the financial capital Karachi to going up in the north Gilgit-Baltistan. But Balochistan was the most affected region. Over 150 people alone perished in floods in the province. There has been a damage to the crops and livestock.

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