Aerial crashes: many leaders died, others survived

Aerial crashes: many leaders died, others survived

Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda's chopper accident Wednesday has put the spotlight back on aerial crashes in India, where helicopters are frequently used to ferry VIPs. Several leaders were killed while others, like Munda, had narrow escapes.

The accident in Ranchi is a grim reminder of the deaths of Indian politicians Sanjay Gandhi, Madhavrao Scindia, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, G.M.C. Balayogi, S. Mohan Kumaramangalam, Dorjee Khandu, O.P. Jindal and Surendra Singh.

The late Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Khandu was killed April 30, 2011, when a helicopter carrying him and four other people from Tawang to Itanagar crashed in a deep forested area.

Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister, died when his Bell 430 helicopter crashed in a dense forest while flying to a village in Chitoor district Sep 3, 2009.

Haryana ministers O.P. Jindal, also a noted industrialist, and Surendra Singh were killed when the chopper carrying them went down near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh March 31, 2005.

C. Sangma, the Meghalaya community development minister, died in a chopper crash in September 2004.

Then Lok Sabha speaker and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader G.M.C. Balayogi died in a chopper Bell 206 crash March 3, 2002 in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
An official probe established that the crash was caused when the pilot, unable to continue due to poor visibility and searching for an appropriate place to land, made an error of judgment by mistaking a pond to be a land surface.

Dera Natung, the Arunachal Pradesh education minister, and five others were killed when their Pawan Hans craft crashed near Tawang because of poor visibility in May 2001.
Madhavrao Scindia, a royal scion from Madhya Pradesh and a former Congress cabinet minister, was killed in a plane crash Sep 30, 2001 when he was travelling to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh to address a Congress rally.

Then Punjab governor Surendra Nath and 12 others, including nine of his family, were killed when a state government plane crashed in a mountainous region of Himachal Pradesh, minutes after taking off July 9, 1994.

Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, died when the glider he was flying crashed soon after take off from Safdarjung airport in Delhi June 23, 1980.

Minister of steel in the Indira Gandhi government Mohan Kumaramangalam was killed in a plane crash in New Delhi May 30, 1973.

But some were lucky and survived. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and union ministers Prithviraj Chauhan and Kumari Selja had a miraculous escape in 2004 when the rear portion of their chopper broke on landing at a helipad in Khanvel in south Gujarat.
Former Punjab chief minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh also survived one such chopper accident when the plane hit electrical wires soon after after taking off. The cables snapped and the chopper crash landed from a relatively low height.

Then Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh and senior leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had a miraculous escape in 2008 when they were travelling to Rampur. The chopper landed close to a pile of dry grass that caught fire. The pilot immediately took off and landed at a safe place.

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