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 due to bad weather on Tuesday. 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.

Dehradun Meteorological Centre’s Director Anand Sharma said, “Private chopper operators don’t consult the meteorological department before flying.”Mr Sharma said there should be identified heliports in the State so that the meteorological department can set up equipments for meteorological data from the identified heliports.

According to Sharma, the State government sent a letter to India Meteorological Centre (IMD) Delhi and Dehradun Metrorological Centre. The letter mentioned setting up three Doppler radars, one each at Mussoorie, Nainital, and Chamoli.

Mr Sharma said, “I have proposed eight Doppler radars so that the entire State can be covered. To begin with, four Doppler radars can be set up in areas proposed by the State government and also in Uttarkashi so that all the data from all the four shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri can be obtained.” Mr. Bahuguna has announced Rs. 10 lakh each as compensation to the two persons who died in the crash.

3 killed in landslides

Meanwhile, three persons died in landslips caused by incessant rains in Chamoli district on Wednesday, District Magistrate S. A. Murugesan informed The Hindu.

The landslips occurred after continuous rainfall on Tuesday night. Sonali, Kandara and Tefna are the three villages that were affected in the landslips.

One of the casualty is from Kandara village and the other two are from Tefna village.

Relief camps have been organised in nearby schools and colleges for the people of Sonali as it is has been severely affected due to debris that has filled most of the houses in the village.