Kathua helicopter crash: Army seeks ‘international assistance’ to find missing pilots

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Army on Tuesday said it was “leaving no stone unturned” including seeking “international assistance” to search the helicopter of the aviation corps which crashed with two pilots onboard near Ranjit Sagar Dam in Basohli area of Kathua on August 3.

“Military authorities are leaving no stone unturned to search the helicopter,” news agency GNS quoted Defence Ministry’s Jammu-based spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand as saying in the first formal statement regarding the crash which completed a week today.  

He said the expanse of the dam is 25-km-long, 8-km-wide and more than 500-feet-deep.

“Indian Army is coordinating the efforts of Indian Navy deep divers team comprising two officers, four JCOs and 24 other ranks, Indian Army Special Forces divers team comprising two officers, one JCO and 24 other ranks, multi beam sonars, side scanners, remotely operated vehicles and underwater manipulators which have been flown in from Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi and pressed into action at crash site of dam,” he said.

The defence spokesperson said the search operation continues unabated inspite of bad weather and rain.

“Expertise and equipment of Army, Navy, IAF, NDRF, SDRF, NGOs, State Police, Dam Authority and private firms from all over the country have also been (pressed) into action,” he said. “This deep underwater operation is especially challenging due to the near zero visibility below 50 meters owing to the colloidal nature of water in this season which adversely impacts accuracy of sonars and other sensors. Experts, specialised equipment and divers are being continuously flown in and international assistance is also being sought,” he said.

The spokesperson said no efforts were spared for early conclusion of the search operation. “A small area of 60m by 60m has been localised and special sonar equipment flown in from Kochi is being employed to enable the search operations to enter their final phase,” he said.

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