- Air Force helicopter crashed at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh around 6 am
- The Mi-17 V5 chopper was on an "air maintenance mission" when it crashed
- Mi-17 V5 chopper is the backbone of the Air Force
The Mi-17 V5 chopper was on an air maintenance mission at an altitude of 17,000 feet when it crashed around 6 AM, according to the Air Force. The helicopter was flying to Yangtse to drop off kerosene jerry cans at an Army camp.
The charred bodies of seven, including the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and two army officers, were found at the crash site close to the border with China.
"One of the kerosene cans opened and got entangled in the tail rotor," an official has been quoted as saying by news agency IANS.
Those who died were Wing Commander B Upadhyay, Squadron Leader S Tiwari, Master Warrant Officer AK Singh and Sergeants Gautam and Satish Kumar and army soldiers HN Deka and E Balaji.
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to establish what caused the accident.
Arunachal Pradesh has a history of crashes due to bad weather.
In July, an IAF chopper on a rescue mission during floods crashed, killing four persons. Earlier this year, two IAF pilots in a Sukhoi-30 jet crashed near the Assam-Arunachal border.
The Russian-made Mi-17 V5 chopper is the backbone of the Air Force.
Over 150 such helicopters are in service and 48 more have been requisitioned. The Mi-17 can carry a substantial payload to higher altitudes and has a very powerful engine.
The tragedy took place a day ahead of Air Force Day celebrations.
At a press conference yesterday to mark the occasion, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had spoken about a string of air crashes in recent years.
"Our losses in the peacetime are a cause of concern. We are making concerted efforts to minimise accidents and preserve our assets," the Air Chief said.