10 dead as plane chartered by BSF crashes

New Delhi, Dec 22 (IANS) All 10 occupants were killed when a chartered plane ferrying BSF personnel to Ranchi crashed on Tuesday morning shortly after taking off from here, officials and witnesses said.

The dead included the pilot and co-pilot as well as eight technicians of the Border Security Force, the officials said.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma confirmed that all 10 occupants in the plane were dead and that the government had ordered an inquiry.

Witnesses said the aircraft appeared to be unstable as it crossed the boundary wall of the Indira Gandhi International Airport — which also has an area reserved for the military.

“It took a kind of U turn, then suddenly went down, crashed and exploded in a huge ball of fire,” a young man who saw the horrific accident told journalists. “We saw thick black smoke rising up.”

A railway employee close to the site said he and his colleagues saw “a huge fire” after the plane came down. “There was a lot of fire all around that nothing else could be seen.”

The crash took place at 9.37 a.m. in Shahabad village at the edge of the airport. The plane was a Beechcraft Super King.

Twenty fire tenders battled the flames, the Delhi Fire Service said.

The Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd said a “serious tragic incident occurred outside the airport boundary wall” within minutes after the plane took off.

“According to preliminary information, there were a total of 10 people on board. All of them are reported to be dead,” a statement said.

The company said the airport authorities immediately activated the full emergency operation. “Flight operation at the airport continues.”

The passengers were identified as Deputy Commandant D. Kumar, Inspectors S.P. Sharma and R.P. Yadav, Sub-Inspectors Ravindra Kumar, Chotte Lal and Sunder Singh, Assistant Sub-Inspector D.P. Chouhan and Constable K. Rawat.

The pilot was Rajesh Shivrain and the co-pilot B.P. Bhatt, an official said.

President Pranab Mukherjee said he was said to learn about the deaths. “My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was pained by the loss of lives. “My thoughts are with the families of the deceased.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who visited the crash site, called the deaths “extremely painful”.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi also expressed grief.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the disaster was “extremely unfortunate” and expressed his heartfelt sympathies to the families of the dead.

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