Friday, May 27, 2011

10 killed in air ambulance crash near Delhi

Faridabad: An air ambulance carrying a critically ill patient crashed into a residential area atin Faridabad on Wednesday night killing 10 people in all. 

Amidst a pleasant gusty night there was literally a bolt from the blue as tragedy struck within seconds. At 10:45 pm on Wednesday night a nine-seater air ambulance crashed into a house in Sector 22, Faridabad, killing all seven on-board and three on the ground. 

Eyewitnesses also said that a strong gust of wind gave no chance to the aircraft, which lost control and crashed. 

"The crash has happened in a residential area. I saw huge flames coming out of the crash," said Naveen Grover, an eyewitness. 

The air ambulance was hired by Delhi's Apollo Hospital to ferry a critically ill 20-year-old jaundice patient, Rahul Raj, from Patna. 

Expressing shock and grief over the incident, the hospital said, "The air ambulance crash in Faridabad is most unfortunate and tragic. The plane was hired from Air Chartered Services. It was bringing in a patient, his attendant along with two doctors and one male nurse from Patna." 

Faridabad's SDM Pradeep said three persons on ground were among the dead when the P-12 turboprop aircraft belonging to Delhi-based Air Chartered Services India Pvt Limited crashed in Jawaharnagar locality near the IAF station shortly before landing at IGI airport in Delhi. 

Two persons were also injured in the crash. The persons who lost their lives on the ground are believed to be residents of the houses hit by the plane. 

It's not clear what caused the crash, but an engine failure isn't being ruled out. 

According to Delhi airport sources, the airplane lost control and nosedived from a height of about 8,000 feet fifteen minutes before landing. There was a strong gusty wind due to a dust storm at the time of the crash. 

The plane caught fire as soon as it crashed on two houses sending up plumes of smoke. 

Besides the two pilots, two doctors and two medical attendants accompanying the patient were on board the ill-fated aircraft. The plane was piloted by Harpreet with Manjeet Kataria as the co-pilot. 

Dr Arshad and Dr Rajesh were the doctors while Ratnesh Kumar and Shiril the medical attendants. 

The bodies of all the 10 victims were charred beyond recognition, according to Faridabad Police Commissioner PK Agarwal. The plane had taken off at 9.30 am. 

Twenty-five fire tenders were rushed to the crash site and the blaze on the house, which caught fire, was brought under control nearly two hours after the mishap. 

While reeking of air turbine fuel from the area could have been a potential hazard, the police said handling curious on lookers was the biggest challenge. 

"We are doing the exercise. The DGCA authorities have also come, so jointly we are doing an exercise and forensic team will also come...that is why we are requesting people not to come close to the site," said Faridabad Police Commissioner PK Aggarwal. 

Officials of DGCA and Civil Aviation Ministry were also reached the crash site. 

"This is a PC 1211 aircraft. This is a single engine small aircraft," said DGCA Joint Director Ashok Saran. "It was a new aircraft," he added. 

While the area has been cordoned off, questions rising on whether gusty winds were the only reason why the aircraft crashed - why was it flying so low in any case? A DGCA appointed team will submit a report within three months. 

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