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June 2, 2011

DG Rangers, son among four killed in ’copter crash 60 pc of helicopter’s wreckage recovered

June 2, 2011


DERA GHAZI KHAN: Four officials of the Rangers, including Punjab Director General Maj Gen Muhammad Nawaz and his son Capt Asif Nawaz, died on Wednesday when their helicopter crashed into the River Indus near Kot Sultan, Layyah.
Rescue workers, Rangers and the Punjab Police officials rushed to the spot but could only recover two bodies that are yet to be identified. The helicopter had departed Dera Ghazi Khan and just 25 minutes after take-off crashed and fell into the River Indus in Mauza Khanwala near Kot Sultan.
“The crashed chopper was almost entirely submerged in the water and only a minor portion of it was visible,” said an eyewitness, Ghaffar Baloch. “The residents heard the terrible sound and Punjab Agriculture Minister Ahmad Ali Olakh and other authorities reached the spot.”
The crash is being linked to cloudy weather and dust storms. According to reports, the chopper was in contact with officials at the Multan Airport till 10:12am after which it lost contact with the control tower.
A Rangers spokesman said the copter was going to Kashmore but had to be re-routed for Multan due to the inclement weather. Layyah DPO Muhammad Saleem said the helicopter caught fire midair before crashing. He confirmed that the rescue operation was in progress and one dead body had so far been recovered.
When contacted, Rangers officials declined to confirm the death of the director general. Sources say the helicopter was on routine operational duty when it fell into the Indus. Sources added that Maj Gen Nawaz, his son Capt Asif Nawaz, pilot Amir Abbas and Subedar Ibadullah, a technician, were on board. Rangers sources said a rescue helicopter had also been rushed to the site, located some 120km northwards of Dera Ghazi Khan and 150km of Multan.
Agencies add: “The helicopter crashed into the Indus river. There were four people on board, including Director General of Punjab Rangers, Maj Gen Mohammad Nawaz,” military spokesman Major Farooq Feroz

told AFP. “There are no reports of any survivors. One body has been recovered and rescue teams have located the wreckage,” he added.
Feroze confirmed reports that Lt Col Aamir Abbas had piloted the helicopter. “The cause of the crash is being investigated. It appears to have been a technical fault, but the weather was also bad,” he said.
Local police officer Mohammad Sajid said the helicopter caught fire midair and plunged into the Indus near Kot Sultan. The tail and toolbox of the helicopter have been recovered from the river. Sources feared the bodies had been swept away due to the strong current.
APP adds: DCO Layyah Mushtaq Ahmad Anjum said on Wednesday that almost 60 percent of the wreckage of the helicopter that crashed into the Indus had been recovered while search for the remaining was in progress.
Talking to APP by phone, the DCO said that around 1,000 to 1,200 divers and swimmers, mostly civilians, and some from Rescue 1122, swarmed the crash site and recovered the helicopter’s pieces from one kilometre area.
Nets have been cast at the Taunsa Barrage to recover the bodies and pieces of the helicopter, the DCO said, adding that a recommendation had also been made to reduce the water flow from Tarbela to slow down the water current.
The DCO added that they would also check the silt factor, adding that silt had started covering the main parts of the helicopter that contains seats by the time divers reached the bottom of the river on Wednesday. However, they had no resources to lift the heavy part.
A special team of divers would join the rescue operation and would also take out the main part of the helicopter. The divers had found a body in that part of the helicopter, the DCO added.
Anjum said, “It seems as if the helicopter crashed due to some technical fault.” He commended the Rescue 1122 team and the local peoples’ support who, despite limited resources and odd circumstances, helped the civil administration to recover the upper part of a body and 60 per cent of the helicopter’s wreckage.
Meanwhile, in-charge Rescue 1122, Dr Tasleem, told APP that divers also recovered some maps, a peaked cap of DG Rangers and his flag from the water, which have been handed over to law enforcement agencies. He said that a team of Army divers having boats had also joined the rescue operation in the evening.




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