ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday ruled out any possibility of terrorism in the crash of military helicopter that crashed in Naltar, Gilgit Baltistan killing seven persons including ambassadors of Norway and Philippines and spouses of Ambassador of Indonesia and High Commissioner of Malaysia, two pilots and an army official.
The Black Box of MI-17 military helicopter that crashed in Naltar had been found and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has constituted a team headed by a brigadier to investigate the incident, said Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry while addressing a press conference here at Foreign Office on Friday night.
The Foreign Secretary ruling out possibility of terrorism in Naltar tragedy said that the crash occurred due to technical failure of the engine of the helicopter. The weather was favourable at the time of crash as two other similar helicopters landed safely which flew ambassadors of some other countries, he added.
He said that the Pakistan Army had arranged top class security for the ambassadors to take them to Naltar and claims of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) about hitting the helicopter are false.
Out of the 19 passengers on board the MI-17 helicopter, including five crew members, 12 were rescued and five, including four diplomats lost their lives, he said.
Some of them got serious injuries that include High Commissioner of Indonesia to Pakistan, who got 75 percent burn injuries and was still in critical condition.
He said Dutch envoy, Malaysian High Commissioner and some other diplomats who received injuries were not in critical conditions but still under treatment.
The Foreign Secretary giving details of the incident said that under instructions of the Prime Minister, Pakistan Army had deployed about 1,000 troops for security purpose and all the surrounding mountain tops were covered by these personnel today when about 30 diplomats of different countries were taken to Naltar for attending a function to inaugurate a ski-resort there.
Chaudhry said that two of the helicopters landed safely at Naltar and the third one met the accident due to technical fault near the site of landing just few minutes of landing and crashed at Army Public School building in Naltar valley.
The Foreign Secretary said the Prime Minister had given the permission for the trip of about 30 diplomats at the request of Dean of Diplomatic Corps. He said Pakistan Air Force had developed the skiing resort at Naltar and a chair lift which were to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the presence of the members of the diplomatic corps.
He said that the idea to arrange the function was to contribute to the development of this beautiful area adding that similar trips were arranged in the past as well including those to Skardu, Shigar, North Waziristan and Army Public School in Peshawar.
Replying to a question he said some members of the investigation team have reached at the site of the tragedy and others are on their way.
Answering a question about maintenance and condition of the helicopter the Foreign Secretary said the helicopter was commissioned in 2002 and was regularly being serviced.
He said the latest service was carried out just eleven hours before the accident.
Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Prime Minister had also given instructions for adequate medical treatment to all those who were injured in this incident.
The Foreign Secretary said arrangements had also been made with PIA for transporting mortal remains of the dead to their respective countries with full honour and respect.
He said presently the countries whose ambassadors have been killed are seeking more information, which is being provided to them.
“Our national flag in Pakistan and in our missions abroad would fly half mast,” he added. He said a memorial service would also be arranged afterwards.
He said crew of the helicopter saved precious lives after the crash at the risk of their own lives and one Army Subedar was killed during rescue operation.
Replying to a question, the Foreign Secretary said Pakistan has not sought any help and assistance from any other country as its authorities are capable to handle the investigation in a proper way.
He said the findings of the investigation would be shared with all those countries whose ambassadors lost their lives or were injured in this incident.