Unsung heroes: Police first to reach MI-17 crash site

Published: May 10, 2015
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SI Rehman says squad rescued 6 people from the wreckage.

SI Rehman says squad rescued 6 people from the wreckage.

GILGIT: 

While en route to the Pakistan Air Force Ski Resort, watching vegetation, settlements and hills vanish in the distance, little did the foreign dignitaries and the crew members manning the MI-17 helicopter know what fate had in store for them.

The delegation, comprising diplomats and their better halves from various countries, was delighted to inaugurate the newly-constructed chairlift at the resort and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was soon to join them at the venue.

Battling the walloping wind, the chopper developed a technical glitch and crashed onto a school in the scenic Naltar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday afternoon. “I watched the helicopter go down from a distance,” said journalist Nazakat Ali. “I saw policemen scurry to the site instantly and pull the injured out through the broken windows,” he told The Express Tribune on Saturday. Ali said the rear end of the chopper was in flames while the rescue operation was under way.

Other eyewitness accounts concurred with Ali’s testimony. Sub inspector (SI) Abdul Rehman and his colleagues were the first to reach the site. While the fire was still on, they risked their lives to protect those who had survived the crash but were severely injured.

The squad members who accompanied Rehman were special grade constables Ashiq Ali, Aqil Khan, Basharat, Fida Ali, Abdul Rahman, foot constable (FC) Abdul Kareem, FC Ijlal Hussain, FC Ghayasuddin, FC Obaidullah, FC Shahid Azim and head constable Hafiz Baig.

“The first person to come out of the chopper was a uniformed man, probably a crew member, followed by a foreigner,” said Rehman.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the Gilgit police department official said the squad was able to rescue six, including a woman. “We were gutted not to have been able to save everyone. Had it been possible, we would have rescued all of them at the cost of our lives,” he said. Recalling the dedication of his team, Rehman said Fida handed him his gun because it prevented him from working freely.

By the time all the injured were pulled out, medical help had arrived. An emergency medic deployed close by said there was an explosion and the chopper caught fire a few minutes after the crash.

The injured were treated by Dr Mubarak Shah Hunzai and Dr Hanif Hunzai at the site. One of the doctors also sustained a foot injury during the rescue operation.

The incident left Norwegian envoy Leif H Larsen, Philippines Ambassador Domingo D Lucenario Jr, wives of Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, two pilots – Major Faisal and Major Altamash – as well as a crew member dead. Polish Ambassador Andrzej Ananiczolish, Dutch Ambassador Marcel de Vink and the Indonesian ambassador were injured.

The Pakistani flag was hoisted at half-mast across government buildings as the government had announced a day of mourning on Saturday.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Jan
    May 10, 2015 - 12:27PM

    Proud of you!Recommend

  • oBSERVER
    May 10, 2015 - 1:02PM

    This is no news. It becomes news when they don’t reach.Recommend

  • Kashif
    May 10, 2015 - 1:03PM

    Salute to you all Police Men.Recommend

  • Factual
    May 10, 2015 - 2:44PM

    Salute to brave policemen who risked their lives in the line of duty. You have made Pakistan proud.Recommend

  • Kashan
    May 10, 2015 - 5:28PM

    We are proud of you SirRecommend

  • asad sheen
    May 10, 2015 - 6:17PM

    Well done bro Abdul Rahman and fellows positive change in police force of Pakistan we need such brilliant officers and soldiers in Pakistan police force.Recommend

  • Shariq Shakil
    May 11, 2015 - 4:56PM

    Salute!.. Recommend

  • abdul rehman
    May 16, 2015 - 3:54PM

    i m thank ful to enlighten our efforts to rescue our national guests at Naltar Gilgit, during helecopter accident , otherwise who will believe Recommend

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