Black box of crashed chopper that killed CDS recovered

Black box of IAF chopper that crashed with CDS Bipin Rawat on board recovered

The FDR could hold crucial details on the moments leading up to the crash

Eye-witnesses who alerted the Nilgiris district police and fire rescue personnel about the crash said the chopper flew dangerously low, quite close to the residential areas before it fell to the ground. Credit: Special Arrangement

The Flight Data Recorder or the Black Box of the Mi-17V5 helicopter, which could contain crucial information about the events that led to the crash on Wednesday, was recovered Thursday morning from the wreckage of the chopper near Coonoor in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.

The chopper crash killed the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika, and 11 army officers and personnel. The lone survivor of the crash -- Group Captain Varun Singh –is being treated at the Military Hospital in Wellington, 16 km from Udhagamandalam or Ooty.

The Black Box was recovered from the crash site by the Army rescue unit on Thursday morning. Wrapped in a cloth, the Black Box was transported in an army vehicle to the Centre in Wellington from where it will be sent to New Delhi or Bengaluru for analysis.

Also Read | Black box of IAF chopper that crashed with CDS Bipin Rawat recovered

The FDR could hold crucial details on the moments leading up to the crash. The tragic crash took place at around 12.15 pm on Wednesday when the when Gen Rawat and 13 others were on their way to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington where the Chief of Defence Staff was to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course.

The mortal remains of the CDS, and others were brought from the Military Hospital to the Madras Regimental Centre in Wellington where Chief Minister M K Stalin and senior army officers paid their last respects. The mortal remains of the CDS, his wife, and others are likely to be flown out of the IAF’s airbase in Sulur near Coimbatore by Thursday afternoon.

Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Tamil Nadu Director General of Police Sylendra Babu visited the crash site in the morning. Meanwhile, a video shot by locals capturing the last few moments of the chopper went viral on social media. The video shows the chopper flying in a thick blanket of fog and suddenly disappears from the sky. A few seconds later, a huge sound is heard prompting those recording the video to ask, “is it gone?”

Brigadier L S Lidder, Lt. Col. Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep, JWO Pradeep, JWO Das, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja, and Havildar Satpal also lost their lives in the crash.
 
Sources in the know told Deccan Herald that the helicopter crashed just about 10 minutes before it was to land at the Gymkhana Club helipad inside the Army Centre in Wellington. Though the IAF did not give any reason for the crash, people living in the area where the accident took place said the weather was misty at noon, when the chopper came down.

Eye-witnesses who alerted the Nilgiris district police and fire rescue personnel about the crash said the chopper flew dangerously low, quite close to the residential areas before it fell to the ground. The advanced helicopter hit a tree at the reserve forest in Nanjappanchathiram before it caught fire and went in flames, eye-witnesses said.

If the crash had taken place a few hundred metres away, there could have been heavy civilian causalities, the sources added.

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