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Monday, February 6, 2023

Tragedy strikes Kedarnath pilgrimage – 7 killed in chopper crash

Aviation regulator DGCA has launched a probe into the Kedarnath helicopter crash in which seven people, including the pilot, were killed today. The chopper carrying Kedarnath pilgrims crashed in Uttarakhand’s Garud Chatti on Tuesday, killing all onboard.

The chopper is reported to belong to Aryan Aviation and was taking the pilgrims to the sacred pilgrimage site of Kedarnath, which forms part of the Char Dham yatra which Hindus from all over the world look to perform.

The Rudraprayag disaster management office identified the victims as Poorva Ramanuj (26), Kriti Brar (30) and Urvi Brar (25) from Gujarat, and Sujata (56), Prem Kumar and Kala (60) from Tamil Nadu. Pilot Anil Singh (57) hailed from Maharashtra. The crash reportedly occurred due to poor visibility and bad weather.

A police official said they were awaiting more information. Teams of SDRF and NDRF have rushed to the crash site. A senior DGCA official said that a team will be sent soon to the crash site to do a detailed probe.

The helicopter, carrying pilgrims, crashed after takeoff from the Kedarnath shrine near Garud Chatti in Rudraprayag at around 11.40 a.m.

“Aryan Aviation Bell-407 helicopter VT-RPN with passengers took off from Kedarnathji Dham for GuptKashi. The weather was cloudy over Garud Chatti. In a valley near Garud Chatti a loud noise was heard and the helicopter caught fire,” said the DGCA official.

“As per the preliminary information received, a Bell 407 helicopter VT-RPN belonging to a Delhi-based NSOP holder M/s Aryan Aviation crashed on the way from Kedarnath to Guptkashi, possibly due to bad weather…,” said the official.

Earlier, in August this year, five helicopter operators, who were carrying pilgrims to Kedarnath shrine, were each fined Rs 5 lakh each by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The operators were fined for not maintaining correct flying records. The regulator also suspended officials from two other operators for three months for flouting safety rules.

(With IANS inputs)

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