Seven dead in helicopter crash in India-held Kashmir


All seven people on board ─ six pilgrims and the pilot ─ were killed Monday when a helicopter crashed in India-held Kashmir (IHK) after leaving a popular Hindu shrine in the mountainous region, police said.

The helicopter crashed after taking off from the town of Katra, near the Vaishnodevi shrine in the Jammu part of the northern region which attracts millions of pilgrims every year.

“Seven people ─ six pilgrims and the lady pilot ─ died in the crash. We are investigating the cause of the accident,” Jammu’s most senior police officer, Inspector General Danish Rana, told AFP.

Television footage showed charred wreckage strewn over a field as police kept back dozens of onlookers.

The shrine devoted to Vaishnodevi, an incarnation of the three forms of Shakti, the goddess of power, is 60 kilometers northeast of the region’s main city of Jammu.

Some pilgrims take private helicopters to and from Katra in the Trikuta mountains rather than travelling by road.

In February a military helicopter crashed north of Srinagar, the main city in Jammu and Kashmir state, killing both pilots.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the disputed territory in its entirety.