Bahuguna pays tribute as bodies of yesterday's crash reaches Dehradun

Dehradun, July 25 (ANI): Today the bodies of pilot Capt. Jagjit Singh Dhaliwal and technician Abhay Ranjan, who were killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday, were brought here for the last rights' ceremony.

The private helicopter was returning from delivering aid to survivors of floods in Uttarakhand when it crashed.

The helicopter, which was owned by Trans Bharat Aviation, was the third to crash in the relief operation under way since flash floods devastated Uttarakhand last month.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who was present here today, saluted the bravery of those involved in the rescue and relief operations in the valley.

"I salute the bravery of these pilots and all other pilots who are working on this operation. Even amidst these weather conditions, they did not care about their own lives in order to help those in Uttarakhand. On behalf of everybody in Uttarakhand we thank these pilots and pay them tribute", Bahuguna said.

He also reminded those involved in rescue operations that they should take extra precaution amidst inclement weather conditions, assuring that "There is no pressure from the government to fly at a particular time amidst these weather conditions."

Bahuguna also announced a compensation for the families of the victims. "We have compensated the families of the deceased with an amount of Rs. 10 lakh", he said here today.

Yesterday the Indian Air Force had confirmed reports of the crash, saying "The chopper had delivered relief supplies and been stuck in Kedarnath due to bad weather since last night. It took off this morning but crashed in a place called Garud Chetti." There were no passengers on board, he added.

Bad weather, narrow valleys and steep mountainous terrain have made it difficult to deliver supplies of aid such as flour, rice and lentils by air to thousands of people in remote villages, cut off by flood damage to local roads.

Last month two helicopters crashed in rescue and relief operations, including an Indian Air Force helicopter which went down near the Himalayan town of Gaurikund, killing the 20 service personnel on board. The Mi-17 was returning after delivering logs for a mass cremation of corpses found under debris left by the flooding.

The mountainous terrain and damaged roads mean much of the massive relief operation is being conducted by air, with the Indian air force and a few private helicopters evacuating survivors and delivering sacks of food to makeshift helipads.

At the peak of the response, the Indian Air Force deployed more than 40 helicopters, air-lifting more than 20,000 people to safety. It has also transported over 500 tonnes of aid over the past month. (ANI)

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