Two persons died when a chopper crashed during rescue and relief operations near Garud Chatti in Rudraprayag district on Wednesday. This is the third crash since the floods and landslides ravaged Uttarakhand last month.

The Delhi-based Trans Bharat Aviation’s Bell 407 was stuck at Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district on Tuesday due to bad weather. Pilot J. S. Dhaliwal and technician Abhay Ranjan left for Guptkashi, just 12-13 minutes from Kedarnath by chopper, on Wednesday afternoon.

“The crash took place at around 3 p.m due to bad weather,” said Suvardhan, Commissioner, Garhwal Division. The chopper was discovered by the police who began searching for it when it did not reach on time, said Dilip Jawalkar, District Magistrate, Rudraprayag.

“Flying in the Kedarnath region is unsafe as the weather is bad. The government will not put any pressure on the pilots from now. They should only operate when the conditions are favourable,” advised Chief Minister, Vijay Bahuguna, after the crash. The pilots must decide whether the conditions are favourable to fly or not and there shouldn’t be pressure on choppers to carry out rescue operations irrespective of the weather conditions, the chief minister said.

Private choppers do not consult the meteorological department before flying. To tackle the problem of communication, heliports must be built in the State which will enable the meteorological department to gather data from these ports, Anand Sharma, Director, Dehradun Meteorological Centre, said. The State government has sent a letter to the India Meteorological Centre (IMD), Delhi, and the Dehradun Metrorological Centre to set up three Doppler radars at Mussoorie, Nainital, and Chamoli, he added.

Mr. Bahuguna has announced Rs. 10 lakh each as compensation to the two persons who died in the crash.