Emergency landing: Army chopper goes down in Poonch

Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh has a miraculous escape

Army officials said all the nine passengers and crew on-board including Singh received injuries but there were no danger to their lives. (ANI/Twitter)

Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and eight other men from the armed forces had a miraculous escape on Thursday when the Dhruv Advanced Light-weight helicopter they were traveling crashed at Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir.

Army officials said all the nine passengers and crew on-board including Singh received injuries but there were no danger to their lives. They were taken to the Command Hospital, Udhampur for medical investigations.

All sustained blunt and superficial injuries but were stable and out of danger, sources said. Singh had facial bruises and underwent a CT scan. The co-pilot from the Navy suffered a back injury whereas another passenger suffered a leg fracture.

“A helicopter with Army Commander, Northern Command on-board, has executed a forced landing on account of technical snag in general area of Poonch. Crew and passengers are safe,” an official from the Northern Command said.

“The local villagers who arrived first on the scene wholeheartedly assisted the Army in management and evacuation of the injured,” he added.

Incidentally, this is the second time Lt Gen Singh had a providential escape from a chopper mishap. As the commanding officer of the 1 Corps, he had a similar experience when his helicopter had to make an emergency landing in a field when he was on his way to Jaipur. Singh was the Director General of Military Operations at the Army headquarters during the 2016 surgical strike.

Since 2007, this is the 11th crash of the HAL-made Dhruv ALH, which is being projected by the Defence Ministry as a product fit for exports. Almost a decade ago, India sold ALH to Ecuador, out of which one crashed during a military parade in 2009. Subsequently, there was a second crash.

Six years after the incident, the Defence Ministry in February 2015 informed the Parliament that pending findings of the Court of Inquiry set up by Ministry of Defence, Ecuador, consisting of representatives from Ecuadorian Army and Navy into the cause of the two recent accidents of Dhruva, Ecuador Air Force suspended flying their Dhruva helicopters.

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