TEZPUR, April 21 � At least 66 persons, including ministers, legislators, senior government officials and pilots, have been killed in air crashes in the North East during the past one decade. Of the 66 killed in plane and helicopter crashes at least 47 were killed in Arunachal Pradesh alone during the past ten years, official sources said today.
Officials sources said the air crashes had occurred due to high altitude terrain in the region, inclement weather conditions and mechanical defects owing to lack of proper maintenance.
The highest number of 17 people were killed when the M-17 helicopter crashed with 23 passengers, including five crew members of Pawan Hans, at Tawang on Tuesday.
On November 19 last year, 12 people, including 11 IAF officials � two of them pilots � and one army officer, had died when an IAF M-17 helicopter crashed at Bomdir bordering China minutes after the copter took off from Tawang helipad on way to Guwahati. Another 13 passengers, including a pilot had died when an IAF AN-32 aircraft crashed on way to Jorhat in Assam from Machuka near Arunachal Pradesh border on June 9 last year. Earlier in 2004, among other cases of mishaps, another helicopter of Pawn Hans travelling from Guwahati to Shillong had crashed killing 16 passengers, the sources said. � PTI