3 army officers killed in Cheetah chopper crash (Third Lead)

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Kolkata, Nov 30 (IANS) Three army officers died and a jawan was critically injured when a Cheetah helicopter crashed inside the Sukna military base in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district on Wednesday, a defence ministry spokesman said.

The crash occurred around 11.30 a.m. near the helipad inside the military base when the helicopter was about to land.

The deceased were Major Sanjeev Lathar, Major Arvind Bazala and Lt. Col. Rajneesh Kumar, the spokesman said.Sapper Dhamne Yogesh Bhaskar was in a critical condition.

“All four were immediately rushed to the Bengdubi Military Hospital where three of them were declared dead, while Bhaskar was critical wounded,” the spokesman said.

Major Lathar was the pilot and Major Bazala the co-pilot of the il-fated helicopter. Lt. Col. Kumar was a passenger.

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“It was a routine mission operating from Sukna and the crash happened when the chopper was coming in to land,” according to the spokesman.

The ill fated helicopter was following another helicopter with a senior official of 33 Corps.

A Court of Inquiry has been ordered by the army authorities to ascertain the cause of the incident.

Lt Col. Kumar was an inhabitant of Farrukabad, Uttar Pradesh. Major Lathar and Major Bazala were residents of Haryana’s Bhiwani and RS Pura in Jammu respectively

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled the death of the three army officers.

“Saddened by the death of three army officers in Sukna due to tragic chopper crash. Words are never enough. My condolences to bereaved families,” Banerjee said on Twitter.

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