A Mi-17V-5 helicopter belonging to the Indian Air Force and flying rescue missions to rain-affected areas crashed today near Gaurikund, India. The doomed chopper had been on his third rescue mission of the day carrying 20 people on board including 5 IAF personnel along with National Disaster Management Authority para military rescue crews assigned to the relief mission.
The chopper who had been returning to Gauchar after its 3rd sortie of the day to rain disaster sites in Guptakashi and Kedarnath crashed in very bad weather on its return leg to Gauchar.
The 8 fatalities initially announced accounted solely for those whose bodies had been recovered while it is becoming more likely that all 20 occupants aboard the aircraft may have perished.
India’s times report that the Russian made Mi-17V-5 helicopterhad been based at Barrackpore Air Force Station in west Bengal and was participating in the massive rescue and evacuation effort that has transported more than 90,000 people following massive flooding. It is reported that 822 people have been killed due to the flooding while 8,000 people remain stranded
Cause of the crash are still not known but the Mi-17V-5 helicopter entered service with the IAF just last year and is considered state-of-the-art. It is reported that interest in the type from India first materialized into a firm order for 80 units worth an estimated $1.375 Billion in December 2008. While a follow up order for an additional 71 aircraft worth $ 1.3 Billion was signed in December 2012. The downed copter belongs to the first batch of aircraft delivered to India from February 2012. An investigation has been initiated following a Court of Inquiry order.