An army helicopter on Wednesday crashed moments after taking off from an airbase here, killing the two pilots and an engineer.
As per a TOI report, the Indian Army's Cheetah chopper was returning from a reconnaissance mission at the Indo-China border in Munsiyari, Pithoragarh.
According to informed sources, the chopper had taken off on surveillance after top brass at the Army headquarters in Bareilly received an alert about the build-up of Chinese troops near the border. Intelligence reports indicate that there was also apprehension of firing from both sides, says the report.
Instead of taking off at its previously stated time at 7.49 am, the chopper took off from Bareilly at 6:30 am on Wednesday. Reports have also claimed that the Army chopper remained in air for more than an hour and the reconnaissance mission was reportedly mentioned in a report by the authorities here to top army brass, including the Defence headquarters.
The incident occurred on Wednesday morning when three Army officers including, Major Abhijai Thapa, Major Vikas Varyani and Captain Avinash Yashwant Somvanshi, belonging to 39 R&O Flight unit, were killed.
According to sources, the helicopter was on a routine flight. Eyewitnesses claimed that the chopper appeared to be in trouble moments after taking off. It soon caught fire and crashed at the airbase.
(With inputs from PTI)