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Aug 30, 2012 at 03:19pm IST

Gujarat: Two Indian Air Force MI-17 helicopters collide mid-air, 8 dead

Ahmedabad: Eight Indian Air Force personnel were killed after two Air Force MI-17 helicopters crashed near Sarmat village in Jamnagar in Gujarat after a mid-air collision on Thursday. There were four people on board each MI-17 helicopter and all of them died in the tragic crash.

One of the helicopters caught fire after the collision, which took place almost 20 kms from the Jamnagar Air Force Station. The helicopters had taken off from the Jamnagar Air Force Base on a routine training sortie.

Sources said that a mid air collision is rare and an investigation would be required to be determined if there was a deviation from standard operating procedures during the flight by either or all the pilots. If there was a deviation then it is a serious case of cockpit indiscipline, the sources added.

The villagers, who witnessed the accident, said the two helicopters collided soon after take off and crashed near the village. They added that one of the helicopters turned into a ball of fire after the collision.

Air Force personnel and police reached the crash site along with Jamnagar municipal corporation fire brigade, and brought the fire under control.

"The helicopters left at 12 noon and we got to know at 12:05 pm that both the sorties have crashed. Eight personnel have died in total, there were four in each chopper. The crash happened in the Air Force land, not a residential area," Defence PRO, Gujarat, Captain MG Mehta said.

An IAF spokesperson in New Delhi said that a court of inquiry has been ordered to determine the reasons behind the crash.

(With additional information from PTI)