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.