Ranchi: Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda and five others including his wife Meera miraculously survived when their helicopter crashed at Ranchi's Birsa Munda Airport on Wednesday. The helicopter, Agusta AW 109 with twin engines, crash landed at the Birsa Munda Airport at 12:30 pm while trying to make an emergency landing following a technical snag in the rotor.
Senior Jharkhand Police officials and the doctors of Apollo Hospital where the injured have been admitted said that all the occupants of the ill-fated helicopter had suffered injuries, but they were safe and responding well to the treatment.
Jharkhand Director General of Police GS Rath and Inspector General of Police (Ranchi Range) MS Bhatia said that Munda was not injured seriously and was safe. However, the helicopter's co-pilot, S Kaushik, has been seriously injured, but he too was out of danger. Kaushik is a Kargil War veteran.
Bhatia added that the helicopter tried to make an emergency landing following the technical problem, but it fell from height of about 30 feet and crash landed at 12:30 pm.
Apollo Hospital Medical Superintended Dr PG Sinha said that Munda was out of danger. "The Chief Minister has received multiple injuries. All six travelling in the helicopter has been brought to Apollo Hospital. All of them are safe and cooperating with the doctors," said Dr Sinha.
"The Chief Minister has multiple injuries and multiple abrasions. The Chief Minister is critical, but stable and out of danger. He is in the ICU," said Dr Sinha.
Munda was coming from Saraikela and the pilot, Captain VK Singh, detected the technical problem soon after the take-off. The pilot informed the Air Traffic Controller at the Birsa Munda Airport and tried to make an emergency landing, but the helicopter crashed.
Apart from Munda, there were five people on-board including two pilots, Munda's wife, a MLA and the Chief Minister's personal security officer.
Aviation experts credit Captain VK Singh with avoiding a major tragedy by bringing back the helicopter to the airport and attempting an emergency landing despite the technical snag. Experts also say that though the helicopter was more than 20 years old, yet its age was not a matter of concern as regular maintenance could increase the life-span of an aircraft.
After crashing the helicopter turned turtle but did not catch fire. The helicopter had been taken from Aryan Aviation. Emergency has been declared at the airport and all flight operations suspended.
A Directorate General of Civil Aviation team will investigate the cause of the crash.