A Pakistan Army aviation helicopter carrying six senior military officers, including a top commander of XII Corps, is feared to have crashed while on a flood relief operation in Balochistan province after losing contact with air traffic control.
The helicopter was in Lasbela, Balochistan when it lost contact with air traffic control (ATC), Pakistan’s military’s media wing said in a tweet on Monday.
Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations – the media wing of Pakistan’s armed forces, said the helicopter was on a flood relief operation.
“A Pakistan army aviation helicopter which was on flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan lost contact with ATC. 6 individuals were on board including Commander 12 Corps who was supervising flood relief operations in Balochistan. The search operation is underway,” Iftikhar tweeted on Monday.
The Pakistan Army is yet to confirm the crash. They have so far confirmed the news of the helicopter going missing. A police source, however, said that the helicopter apparently crashed near a place called Sassi Pannu in a mountainous region in Lasbela.
The six individuals on board included the Commander XII Corps Lt Gen Sarfraz Ali, who was supervising the flood relief operations in Balochistan province. The others on board included Major Syed the pilot, Major Talha the co-pilot, Director-General of Coast Guards Brigadier Amjad, Engineer Brigadier Khalid and Chief Naik Mudassir.
Deputy Inspector-General Khuzdar Pervez Imrani conceded that the area where the helicopter reportedly went missing was mountainous terrain, without jeep paths, complicating search operations.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed concern over the incident. “The reports of a missing helicopter of Army Aviation are very concerning. The whole nation bows in front of Allah for safety and return of personnel involved in flood relief operations,” he tweeted.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan tweeted, “Disturbing news of army aviation helicopter missing and praying for all those on board.”
Heavy rains and flash floods have wreaked havoc in Balochistan, claiming 147 lives. The civil authorities and the Pakistan Army are currently providing relief programmes to the displaced in the province.