No foul play: Gilgit helicopter crash was due to technical fault, says foreign secretary

Published: May 8, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said that the Pakistan Army helicopter crashed in Naltar valley of Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday morning due to a technical fault in its engine as it neared the landing site, ruling out the possibility of any terror related activity. He added that the blackbox of the ill-fated aircraft had been recovered.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday evening, Chaudhry dismissed as “bogus” a claim made by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan that they had shot down the helicopter carrying diplomats. Seven people, including two foreign envoys and two pilots were killed when the helicopter crashed into a school in the scenic valley.

He added that there was no security lapse with nearly 1,000 soldiers deployed and all heights (high vantage points) occupied by security forces.

“It was purely an accident, and accidents do happen,” he said adding that the ill-fated helicopter had suffered a technical fault near its landing zone.

Commenting on the condition of the helicopter, Chaudhry said that it was regularly serviced with the last one just 11 hours before the crash.

Army chief forms board of inquiry

Chaudhry said that the blackbox of the helicopter had been found and that the Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had constituted a board of inquiry which will be headed by a Brigadier.

He added that the results of this inquiry will be made public.

Priority to bring injured, dead back to Islamabad

The foreign secretary said that the priority at this point was to bring the injured and the dead to Islamabad as soon as weather allowed.

Giving details of those injured, he said that the Indonesian ambassador had suffered 75% burns and was in critical condition. The Dutch and Polish ambassadors, who had suffered neck and head injury and spinal injury respectively, were both out of danger.

Asked if any of the countries, whose diplomat had either died or had been injured in the crash, the foreign secretary said that it was too early to say. He added that countries, whose ambassadors had died in the crash were currently seeking more information.

Ministers to accompany dead bodies of envoys, spouses

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday tasked three Cabinet ministers to accompany the dead bodies of diplomats and spouses who had lost their lives in the tragic helicopter crash in Naltar.

Ministers Lt Gen (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch (Norway), Ahsan Iqbal (Malaysia and Indonesia) and Khurram Dastagir Khan (Philippines) will accompany the dead bodies on special flights as a gesture of respect and to convey the heartfelt condolences from the government and people of Pakistan.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • May 8, 2015 - 9:45PM

    thanks for speaking truth!!Recommend

  • Samina Rizvi
    May 8, 2015 - 10:14PM

    Any terrorist act has been ruled out by our Foreign Minister but still there are some points to ponder.First of all,If the M 17 crashed of any technical fault then one must try to find out for who is responsible of this technical; fault as it has also been claimed that the Helicopter was serviced 11 hours before take off.Foreign Minister has also claimed that the Black Box of the chopper has been found and there are no traces of any Terrorism revealed.It is surprising for my little knowledge that when ever any Air crash had happened in Pakistan,it took 3 to 4 months to decode the Black Box as Pakistan has no experts to read or decode black box,so,how it is done so quickly this time.
    No doubt,it is a big tragedy which is going to effect Pakistan in so many ways. Recommend

  • Milind
    May 8, 2015 - 10:23PM

    The Talibans have more credibility than the Pakistani establishment… They own up whatever they do.. unlike the Pakistani establishment which denied presence of OBL, terror camps on its soil, nuclear proliferation etc…Recommend

  • Rajesh
    May 8, 2015 - 10:49PM

    To see foreign diplomatic personnel deputed to a host country getting harmed there in any way is beyond tragic. Diplomats are to be protected at all costs.

    I do hope this was an accident, and just a tragic accident caused by equipment failure, and nothing else.

    However, the bigger question here is why did it take the presence of several helicopter-loads of diplomats for the Prime Minister of Pakistan to inaugurate a solitary chair lift donated by a foreign country in a far-off ski area? And if this was so very important for the PM, perhaps newer and better-maintained helicopters could have been used, at least for the diplomatic guests of the country.

    Or, the PM could have inaugurated the ski lift right from his office in the Capital by pressing a button on a device, like he would have done on site. And all the Ambassadors could have been with him in his office…

    RIPRecommend

  • SJ
    May 8, 2015 - 11:09PM

    RIP! heart wrenching incident happened today, our prayers are with the dear departed and their loved ones.Recommend

  • globalobserver
    May 8, 2015 - 11:41PM

    @Samina Rizvi:

    Astute observations. This definitely sounds like an act of terrorism. There are many groups such as TTP and Gilgit-Balitstan freedom fighters could be involved. This is a high visibility attack to bring attention to GB occupation by Pakistan?Recommend

  • Sam
    May 9, 2015 - 2:30AM

    Thoughts and prayers for all those who lost their lives. Every single life is important and hope investigation find out what happened.Recommend

  • Sam
    May 9, 2015 - 2:31AM

    @ Rajesh Maybe the newer choppers are being used by other folks in govt like PM’s son. Pak govt is equally responsible for this if its found that better and newer condition choppers were not provided while they were available.Recommend

  • ajeet
    May 9, 2015 - 2:43AM

    The Pakistani authorities are famous for lying and uts better to wait for independent confirmation from other sources.Recommend

  • woody
    May 9, 2015 - 3:42AM

    Any accident takes time to ascertain the real cause – Pakistan’s immediate announcement that it wasn’t terrorism maybe correct but it certainly wasn’t based on any investigation. Recommend

  • Shakeel
    May 9, 2015 - 3:44AM

    After the nefarious activity of Indians in Nepal there is no doubt that the dirty hand of RAW is here also. Too many coincidences to be an accident.Recommend

  • Majid
    May 9, 2015 - 4:01AM

    Pakistan will have to pay a lot of money in compensation now.Recommend

  • nonsense
    May 9, 2015 - 4:05AM

    In the USA/West they would say something like “we are investigating the cause of the crash, we have no evidence that terrorism is the cause, we will update you as the investigation proceeds”. Making absolute statements right after the crash isn’t very bright – everyone knowns it takes time to investigate the real cause of an airline crash – could be anything from mechanical failure, terrorism, even pilot suicide.Recommend

  • Zaida
    May 9, 2015 - 6:07AM

    @hadi:
    “Truth” is very relative here. Even if the TTP did it, it would be claimed as an accident.Recommend

  • Harish
    May 9, 2015 - 6:19AM

    Occupation of GB by Pakistan claiming it’s pound of flesh?!Recommend

  • wb
    May 9, 2015 - 6:48AM

    I have been accused of extreme anti-Pakistan hatred many times.

    Maybe so.

    But it always befuddles me that Pakistanis go a step further and defy common sense and logic and reasoning and behave like immature brats.

    Indian media did report the claim made by TTP after The Telegraph reported so. And your media starts claiming insensitivity on the part of Indian government. How is that even logically correlated?

    Indian ambassador expressed condolences over the loss. An ambassador is a representative of a government. That is as good as Indian government expressing grief. And Indian media promptly reported what Telegraph reported.

    So, why is your media, politicians and ex-military acting like spoiled brats and blaming Indian government of insensitivity? Is there no sanity left in your country? By the way it is not a surprise that it is the same people who created a big deal out of a fraudulent water car.Recommend

  • ajeet
    May 9, 2015 - 9:13AM

    Technical faculty in a plane carrying ambassadors? It’s unbelievable. Just proves that aid and dole won’t improve the capability of the Pakistani militaryRecommend

  • Juggernaut
    May 9, 2015 - 9:55AM

    First they will say Technical fault…after 2-3 days they will say terrorist act..and after 2-3 days they will say RAW is behind…and so on..Recommend

  • May 9, 2015 - 10:06AM

    Taliban claim that they have attacked to Mr. Nawaz sharif but attack has gone to other people pakistani are climing that is a technical faults. how can it a fault.Taliban has taken responsibitily for attacking Sharif .Recommend

  • Xman
    May 9, 2015 - 10:28AM

    Regardless of the root cause for crash, it was actually was quite stupid of the PK gov. to suggest, and the embassies to agree to allow hauling bucket loads of diplomats and their families to a remote a inaccessible area, without any proper risk assessment and mitigation plan. Anyone who has been to Naltar, knows how difficult it is to reach there and return due to a whole lot of variables, including weather, terrain, and shear remoteness. I hope embassies before allowing their diplomats to travel had asked PK government in details about mobilisation/demobilisation plan, and contingencies in case of a disaster.Recommend

  • May 9, 2015 - 10:37AM

    Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Ilaihe Rajeoon. Ameen.
    It was and still remains the most profoundly shocking and sad news for the day. May Allah Almighty rest all of them in Paradise and give their families the strength to forbear this irreplaceable loss. SalamsRecommend

  • oBSERVER
    May 9, 2015 - 10:50AM

    I am amazed the comments posted are from Bharati trolls. Many comments like mine from Pakistan have been omitted. Doesn’t it tell something? Recommend

  • Ayesha
    May 9, 2015 - 11:48AM

    The nation condole with all who have died in the chopper. The word ACCIDENT, which otherwise means – TO MAKE GUILTY FEEL BETTER should thoroughly be investigated as it has severely damaged the soft image of Pakistan.Recommend

  • oBSERVER
    May 9, 2015 - 12:46PM

    No foul play: Gilgit helicopter crash was due to technical fault, says foreign secretary, then how come it never happens when PM or his minions are on board? Just curious.Recommend

  • Pehalwan
    May 9, 2015 - 6:18PM

    Upon dropping of the deceased in their respective counties the Ministers can also go shopping in those lands .Thus saving a trip exclusively for that matter . Recommend

  • Ram Dargad
    May 9, 2015 - 7:20PM

    @ajeet:
    Unwanted comment showing your obsession with Pakistan. We Indians should avoid criticism during such incidents unless there is a reference to India which requires a response. Recommend

  • Piyar Ali Sagi Hunzai
    May 9, 2015 - 7:27PM

    This was an accident occurred in the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan, the civil society of Gilgit Baltistan felt condolence with effected families of foreign diplomats and envoys as well as with Civil Aviation persons.Recommend

  • fiaz
    May 10, 2015 - 12:19AM

    @kartikey
    Whenever Taliban hit that kind of sophisticate target they release a video, so it most probably a accident.Recommend

  • ajeet
    May 10, 2015 - 7:31AM

    @Ram Dargad:
    Do what? Another candle light vigil after Mumbai type incident?Recommend

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