Bodies of Colonel, 2 Majors recovered; court of inquiry being ordered

A Colonel and two Majors were killed when an army helicopter crashed in the jungles of the mountainous Dzukou Valley in Nagaland's Kohima district on Wednesday morning.

“The cause of the crash is not known at this point of time. A court of inquiry is being ordered,” said Public Relations Officer (Defence) Colonel R.K. Palta.

Kohima Superintendent of Police R. Tetseo said the crash occurred apparently due to bad weather but only army authorities could ascertain the actual cause.

It took about a 90-minute walk on a hilly track from Viswema village, located along National Highway 39, towards the Dzukou Valley. Army and police search teams, with the help of locals, located the crash site around noon and recovered the bodies of pilot Major Rakesh Sharma, co-pilot Major Nikhil Prakash and Colonel P. K. Pal, Mr. Tetseo told The Hindu.

Operational sortie

Colonel Palta said that the Cheetah helicopter had taken off from the Army headquarters of 3 Corps at Rangapahar near Dimapur around 7.50 a.m. on an operational sortie in the Zakhama area in Nagaland.

However, around 8.25 a.m the ground contact with the chopper was lost.

“The helicopter reportedly crashed approximately five km west of Viswema. The wreckage has been located. Rescue and relief efforts are on.”

The bodies were recovered from the crash site, in inhospitable terrain and in inclement weather, said an official release issued by Colonel Palta.

The SP said the weather was very bad in the morning. “Some villagers at Viswema informed us that they heard a big bang shortly after they noticed a helicopter flying. They suspected that the chopper might have crashed in the jungle.” On this information, search and rescue teams were rushed there.