Rudraprayag: A helicopter ferrying pilgrims from Kedarnath temple to Guptkashi here crashed into a hill due to poor visibility on Tuesday, killing all six pilgrims and the pilot on the spot.
The chopper — Bell 407 (VT-RPN) and operated by Aryan Aviation — burst into flames at around 11.45 am at Dev Darshini in Garud Chatti, Rudraprayag District Disaster Management Officer Nandan Singh said.
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force, disaster response forces of Uttarakhand and Delhi, and police brought the bodies to the Kedarnath helipad.
The Rudraprayag disaster management office identified the victims as Poorva Ramanuj (26), Kriti Brar (30) and Urvi Brar (25) from Gujarat, and Sujata (56), Prem Kumar and Kala (60) from Tamil Nadu. Pilot Anil Singh (57) hailed from Maharashtra, it said.
President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia condoled the loss of lives.
“The news of the death of many pilgrims, including the pilot, in the helicopter crash near Kedarnath Dham is very sad. My deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones,” Murmu tweeted in Hindi.
“Anguished by the helicopter crash in Uttarakhand. In this tragic hour, my thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Modi was quoted as saying in a tweet by his office.
Scindia wrote, “Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the tragic crash. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. May God give them the strength to bear this loss.” In another tweet, he said the civil aviation ministry was constantly monitoring the situation.
“The helicopter crash in Kedarnath is extremely unfortunate. We are in touch with the state government to ascertain the magnitude of the loss, and are constantly monitoring the situation,” he said.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, too, expressed grief and ordered a detailed inquiry into the crash.
In August 2019, three people were killed in a private helicopter crash. The chopper was carrying relief material to the victims of severe floods and cloudburst in Uttarkashi.