No Body Bags In Remote Areas: Controversy After Tawang Air Crash

The soldiers - personnel from the Air Force and the Army -- had died on Friday as an IAF Mi-17 chopper crashed at an altitude of nearly 17,000 feet in Tawang.

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No Body Bags In Remote Areas: Controversy After Tawang Air Crash

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The bodies of the seven soldiers were found at the crash site close to the border with China.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Pictures of soldiers killed in chopper crash in Arunachal spark row
  2. Many criticise lack of basic facilities like body bags in remote areas
  3. Army says incident an aberration, body bags and coffins will be ensured
Heartbreaking pictures of the remains of seven soldiers -- killed in an air crash in Arunachal Pradesh -- being transported in cardboard boxes, have triggered controversy and concern on social media. A former Army officer has weighed in, criticizing the lack of basic facilities like body bags in remote areas.

The soldiers - personnel from the Air Force and the Army -- had died on Friday as an IAF Mi-17 chopper crashed at an altitude of nearly 17,000 feet in Tawang. Army jawans deployed in the area did whatever they could to get the mortal remains onto another Mi-17 chopper. The bodies were flown to a hospital, where postmortems were done and the bodies were sent to the families with full military honours.

Army sources say at that altitude, a Mi-17 helicopter cannot operate with the weight of 6 caskets.

But today, former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen HS Panag tweeted:NDTV has learned that tiny, remote posts of the army, which dot the border with Pakistan and China, usually do not store body-bags. These are equipped with only bare essentials for administrative support. Body bags are kept at larger military formations, usually at the level of the battalion.

Responding to the controversy, the Indian Army tweeted:The Mi-17 V5 chopper was on an air maintenance mission, flying to Yangtse to drop off supplies at an Army camp. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of the Indian Air Force, said, "The tail rotor of the helicopter flew off."

The bodies of the army and Air Force personnel, including the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and two army officers, were found at the crash site close to the border with China. Those who died included a Wing Commander and a Squadron Leader.

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