Islamabad: A Pakistani army helicopter carrying six people, including a top general, crashed during a flood relief mission in the country’s flood-hit Balochistan province, the military confirmed on Tuesday.
“The wreckage of the unfortunate helicopter which was on flood relief ops found in Musa Goth, Windar, Lasbela. All six offers and soldiers, including Lt Gen Sarfraz Ali, embraced shahadat,” the military said. The accident occurred due to bad weather as per initial investigations, according to the official statement.
In a statement issued late on Monday, the military said that the army aviation helicopter had lost contact with a regional control tower and went missing while monitoring flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan.
The six-member crew included Commander 12 Corps Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, director general of the Pakistan Coast Guard, Major General Amjad Hanif Satti, and Brigadier Muhammad Khalid. Three other crew members were identified as the pilot Major Saeed, copilot Major Talha Manan and Naik Mudassar Fayyaz.
Helicopter went missing on August 1
The search continued for six passengers from late Monday till Tuesday morning. Local police initially said there had been no trace of the chopper after the nightlong search operation that began on Monday. Balochistan authorities also said they faced difficulties conducting search and rescue operations due to the rugged mountainous region. The lost chopper is believed to be Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil.
Soon after the reported crash, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Dr Arif Alvi expressed concern and prayed for the safe return of the military officials. “The nation prays to Allah for the safety, security and return of the sons of the country who came out to help the flood victims,” Sharif tweeted. Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo directed the district administration and police in Lasbela to use all means necessary to find the missing helicopter.
Armed forces leading rescue mission
Southern Pakistan has been hit hard by floods after unusual monsoon rains that have killed 478 people and destroyed or damaged nearly 36,500 homes in Pakistan since mid-June. Balochistan has been hit hardest, with at least 136 deaths reported, according to the disaster management agency. The devastating floods prompted the military, navy, and air force to mobilise their personnel and assets to assist in civilian relief operations in the province, evacuating thousands of stranded people and delivering food and relief items to flood-victims families.