Maharashtra CM, five others survive chopper crash

Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and five others on Thursday had a providential escape when their chopper crash-landed after it got entangled in overhead electric cables in Latur district, officials said.
The state government’s Sikorsky helicopter VT-CMM took off from Nilanga town, near Latur, around noon with six persons, including Fadnavis, two crew members and three other officials.
However, shortly after take-off, the pilot noticed variable wind patterns and decided to return to the helipad, a Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official said.
But during the attempted landing, the chopper got entangled in some overhead electrical cables running near the helipad and crash-landed from a height of nearly 80 feet there — a ten-storied building height — even as hundreds of onlookers, police and security officials rushed to the site.
All the persons on board, including Fadnavis, Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi, personal assistant Abhimanyu Pawar and PRO Ketan Pathak, besides the pilot and co-pilot, came out safely from the chopper which suffered extensive damage.
An anxious Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao called up Fadnavis soon afterwards and enquired about his well-being as also that of the co-passengers and crew on board.
He expressed happiness that all were safe and sound after the tragic incident.
Later, Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray also spoke to Fadnavis and enquired about the accident and expressed happiness that nothing untoward had happened.
Though shaken, Fadnavis himself made a quick reassuring tweet: “Our helicopter did meet with an accident in Latur, but me and my team are absolutely safe and ok. Nothing to worry.”
Later, he told media persons that with the blessings of the 12 crore people of the state and Jai Bhavani, he and his teammates emerged unscathed out of what could have been a monumental tragedy.
His family members, including wife Amruta, daughter and mother, also expressed their deep sense of relief after hearing that he was safe and unhurt.
Fadnavis said “a high-level probe would be conducted into the incident” to ascertain whether there were any security lapses leading to the tragedy.
He also said that in future he would remain more alert over such security issues.