2009 Pakistan Army Mil Mi-17 crash
Helicopter similar to the one which crashed.
|Date||July 3, 2009|
|Site||Khyber Pass, Pakistan
|Crew||4 members including 2 pilots|
A Russian-made Mil Mi-17 transport helicopter of the Pakistan Army crashed in the FATA, in Orakzai Agency on July 3, 2009. According to a source within the Army the crash was due to a technical fault. Some sources report that local people are saying it was due to militant activity. The crash site is Chapar Feroze Khel, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Peshawar, on the border of the semi-autonomous Orakzai and Khyber tribal agencies. The area is remote and also full of militants, which are hampering the rescue efforts.
Official accounts state 26 soldiers as dead in the incident, but other sources put the toll at 41 people on board, all of them being killed, including 19 from the paramilitary Frontier Corps, 18 army personnel and 4 crew members. According to the Mil Mi-17 specification, Mi-17's capacity is limited to 32 passengers. Most of the personnel on board were proceeding on leave.
The helicopter was flying from Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency, to Peshawar. Previously there were unconfirmed reports that the helicopter might have been hit by ground fire from militants, with four casualties reported, but these have been overshadowed by Inter Services Public Relations' report. There is an ongoing operation in the area against the militants linked to Al-Qaeda. Militants have claimed they have shot down the aircraft and the Taliban have captured the pilot; if true this is the first such incident.
Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has ordered an inquiry, but the crash prompted speculation whether the transport helicopter attracted militant gunfire and was shot down. This speculation is based on the fact that the area is a militant stronghold, and the militants had 12.7mm machine-guns to hit a low flying aircraft.
Combat and transport helicopters usually fly high to avoid fire from the ground.
Investigations are being carried out. An official said that it will take some time before the actual cause can be determined.
It is a lengthy exercise
According to sources the pilot had requested an emergency landing. They also blamed it on overloading of aircraft. Witness accounts say that it was flying at low altitude in the mountains.
Weather was also not good in the area. According to one official,
The weather was bad and the copter was flying low. It could either be because of the bad weather or excess weight. But nothing can be said with certainty until we retrieve the wreckage
This was rejected by the military spokesmen, who again blamed it on "'technical fault". He further said that:
Taliban militants frequently make false claims
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