Five Days After Wedding, Couple Dies in Katra Chopper Crash

An employee of the Indian Air Force, Arjun Singh had got married to Vandana five days ago.

Jammu: Five days after they married, Arjun Singh and Vandana Singh died. They were on the helicopter that crashed on its return trip from Vaishno Devi  in Katra. Their cousin Mahesh, who had accompanied them, has also died.

Four other people died with them - four pilgrims and the woman pilot of the privately-run Himalayan Heli Services chopper.

"They got married on November 18. Just got the sad news that they were among the pilgrims who died," said Manohar Singh, a relation.

An employee of the Indian Air Force, Arjun was an only son. The family, residents of Gho Manasa area in the outskirts of Jammu city, had given a grand reception on November 19 and the newlyweds had gone to the cave shrine to pay obeisance today, said Preetam Singh Chib, a relation.
Shock and gloom has enveloped Katra after the crash. Of the 20,000 pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi every day, around 1000 people take helicopters.

Sachin Solanki, a Delhi resident and his six-year-old daughter were also among the deceased. "My daughter was very bright student. She was very intelligent. I have lost everything," said Mr Solanki's wife, who had gone on the family trip to Jammu.

According to initial investigation, the chopper had crashed after a bird hit. The bird had got stuck into the tail rotor of the helicopter just after the takeoff. The pilot steered away the chopper towards an open ground, but it crashed and caught fire.

"We saw the helicopter flying. A big bird hit it and it crashed and caught fire. We could just see the hand of a woman in the helicopter," said Sheela, an eye-witness.

Eyewitnesses said the pilot, Sumeeta Vijayan - a former Air Force pilot -- crashed while trying to land in an open space.

Ms Vijayan, who had been with the company for a decade and was its chief pilot, was from Gurgaon, Haryana. Her sister is also with the Air Force, and she lived in Jammu with her mother.
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