12 dead as military helicopter crashes near Mansehra

Published: August 6, 2015
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An army MI-17 helicopter carrying a medical evacuation team crashed. PHOTO: AFP

An army MI-17 helicopter carrying a medical evacuation team crashed. PHOTO: AFP

MANSEHRA: As many as 12 army personnel were killed when their helicopter crashed near Mansehra on Thursday evening, military officials confirmed.

Pakistan Army’s Mi-17 ‘air ambulance’ helicopter, carrying a medical team, crashed in the Rani Bat area of Koh-e-Bhaingra hill, around 65kms from Mansehra.

“There were 12 military men with doctors, paramedic and aviation people on board,” a senior military official said. Five of those dead were identified as servicemen with ranks of Major.

The crash is suspected to have been caused by bad weather as the helicopter flew over the mountains while heading towards Gilgit-Baltistan from Rawalpindi.

An official of the military’s media wing confirmed the incident, adding that the helicopter was carrying relief items and medicines in addition to evacuate a critically injured soldier from Gilgit.

Rescuers pulled 11 bodies from the wreckage with at least one body missing. Eye witnesses said that the helicopter had caught fire after crashing.

Read: PAF helicopter carrying flood relief goods crash-lands in Chitral

The charred corpses were burnt beyond recognition and the aircraft, which was carrying aid supplies, was still on fire late into the evening.

“The accident occurred in a hilly area that is not easily accessible, and the helicopter is still on fire,” senior police official Nujeebur Rehman said.

The military has been operating helicopter flights in the region to aid with flood relief and rescue efforts.

Earlier in the week, the National Disaster Management Authority had requested the government for two helicopters to carry out relief and rescue work in the flood affected areas of the province.

Read: Norway, Philippines ambassadors among 8 killed in Gilgit helicopter crash

The Russian-built Mi-17, used by air forces across the world, has had a patchy safety record in recent years.

The accident comes hours after a helicopter of the Pakistan air force crashed in the flood-hit district of Chitral, although no causalities were reported.

In May, an Mi-17 army helicopter crashed at a holiday resort in the picturesque hills of Gilgit killing seven people, including two ambassadors.

PM expresses grief over crash

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday expressed deep grief and sorrow over the army helicopter crash in Mansehra.

According to a PM House statement, the prime minister expressed his condolences over the loss of lives of army personnel in the incident.

He also commiserated with the families of the deceased in the tragic incident.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Faruq
    Aug 6, 2015 - 9:44PM

    Might be worth investing in a different class of transport helis. RIP to the deceased.Recommend

  • Menninist
    Aug 6, 2015 - 9:55PM

    This is the 2nd Russian M 17 that crashed in Pakistan, we need to stop buying Russian jets and choppers, there was a recent crash at a Russian airshow, it’s well known that Russian planes,ships and submarines are the worst, they don’t even trust their own products so they buy from the west.Recommend

  • syed faisal
    Aug 7, 2015 - 1:20AM

    so unforutnate. RIP . May Allah accept their souls.Recommend

  • Zahid
    Aug 7, 2015 - 2:20AM

    Oh it’s very bad, God blesses them
    Lost human specialy Arms force don’t have words my sympathy with brave familiesRecommend

  • GS@Y
    Aug 7, 2015 - 4:24AM

    May be Pakistan should phase out these Mi-17s now. Two crashed in a year that’s not even over is surely enough reason. And these have crashed before as well. Perhaps Pakistan can look into a cheap, newer alternative from China or Europe.Recommend

  • yaldram
    Aug 7, 2015 - 8:07AM

    this has nothing to do with russian or US helicopter.. it is lack of professionalism shown by our army.. who will catch the commanding officer who gave green light for this mission? did not he know that weather is not fit for flying yet he gave instructions to his pilots to fly. and juniors can never say no sir in our army. Precious lives have been lost because of an incompetent officer who only wanted a SHABASH from top if this mission would have been a success.. well done you have done a great job in flood relief. now that they are dead who will catch the officer? pilots need to be given incharge n this chain of command should be finished, in aviation a pilot should be allowed to fly when he wants to, he should not be forced by the commanding officer. lives have been lost children made orphans just because of incompetency n greed of one man. Recommend

  • Fzal
    Aug 7, 2015 - 1:32PM

    @yaldram:
    So devastating.
    I fully agree with what you have said. Accidents do happen but perhaps many are preventable. Hope there will be an unbiased investigation and appropriate action taken. In the mean time my heart goes to the effected families and may Almighty rest the departed soul in peace. Amin.Recommend

  • Amt
    Aug 7, 2015 - 8:33PM

    Very sad news. Pakistan army has greatly contributed their lives in the betterment of country. May Allah SWT rest them in peace and bless the souls of soldiers. Pak army zindabad. Recommend

  • Nusratullah Khan Air Cdre (Retd)
    Aug 7, 2015 - 10:49PM

    In search of shabash and good show, there have been countless incidences where our junior officers have been innocently trapped. Aviation is not something to be taken easy. Our army aviators must learn to say no and senior officers to have faith and honour no. General officers too should accept and honour mother nature.Recommend

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