Two Army officers killed in chopper crash

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Nashik (Mah), Feb 2 (PTI) An army helicopter crashedin a residential area here today killing both its pilots butthere was no casualty on the ground.

The Cheetah helicopter of the Army Aviation Corpscrashed at around 0855 hours at Jachak Nagar, killing both itsoccupants-- Captain Bhanu Pratap Gupta and Major Atul Garje,army officials probing the crash said.

They said as the chopper crashed in an open spacethere was no casualty.

Major Garje and Capt Gupta of Jodhpur army aviationbase had arrived at the army''s Combat Aviation Training Centreat Gandhinagar here two days back and had taken off thismorning for Goa en route Pune. Later they were to fly toBangalore for the Aero-India show that kicks off next week,army sources said.

Eyewitnesses said the rotor blade of the helicopterstopped moving mid-air and the aircraft hit the terrace of aresidential building before crashing to the ground.

The bodies of both pilots have been retrieved from thedebris of the ill-fated chopper by the fire service and armyrescue teams.

"There has been no significant damage to the buildingnor is there any civilian casualty," Nashik fire brigade Chiefofficer Anil Mahajan told PTI.

Forensic experts from the army are busy gatheringmaterial from the crash site for an inquiry.

Nashik District Magistrate P Velarasu said there wasno civilian casualty and the helicopter as per the preliminaryinvestigation crashed due to possible technical failure.

"All we can say is that both the pilots on board aredead. The helicopter crashed in a civilian area and there isno civilian casualty. Investigations are on," he said.

The bungalow was locked and its owners, identified asBhagwan Trimbak Patil and his wife Meena, a teacher, were outfor work when the mishap occurred.

In 2006, an army helicopter had crashed close theCombat Aviation Training Centre, about 4 Km from here, killingthree personnel, while an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) hadgone down in a civilian area at Vadner on Pathardi-Delvaliroad last year, but there was no casualty.

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