Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had a narrow escape on Thursday when his helicopter got entangled in overhead wires and crash-landed in Latur district after the pilot tried to descend due to bad weather, soon after take-off.
The state government’s six-year-old Sikorsky chopper was damaged beyond repair, an official of civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.
The accident occurred when the helicopter, which had six persons on board including two crew members, was landing at Nilanga town of the district where the CM had held a programme.
The incident will be investigated by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, which comes under the civil aviation ministry, the official said. The AIB probes all accidents and serious incidents involving Indian aircraft.
“Our helicopter did meet with an accident in Latur but me and my team is (sic) absolutely safe and ok. Nothing to worry,” Fadnavis tweeted after the accident.
The chief minister later proceeded by road to Latur city, which is about 40 kilometre from the crash site, and boarded a specially arranged aircraft to fly to Mumbai.
The DGCA official said the six-seater helicopter suffered substantial damage and would have to be “written off”.
After taking-off around 12 noon, the pilot observed a variable wind pattern and decided to land. In the process, the helicopter got entangled in wires, the official said, adding that all on board are safe and escaped without any serious injury.
The aviation authorities spoke to the commander of the flight as well as the chief minister, he said, noting that they confirmed the well-being of all the occupants.
The chopper was scheduled to land at the governor’s house and from there proceed to its designated parking bay at the Juhu aerodrome, a state government official said.
Fadnavis had gone to Latur in Marathwada region for the BJP’s ‘Shivar Samwad Sabha’, a state-wide campaign to reach out to farmers.
Those aboard the helicopter along with the CM included senior IAS officer and his personal secretary Praveen Pardeshi, his personal assistant Abhimanyu Pawar, and media adviser Ketan Pathak.
“I am safe. There was a minor accident involving the helicopter. People shouldn’t believe in rumours,” Fadnavis later told reporters at Nilanga.
“Nobody got hurt. Pathak has suffered minor injuries. With the blessings of 11 crore people of Maharashtra, I am safe,” Fadnavis said, added that the pilot also did not have any major injury.
“We will seek information from the police on this incident,” the chief minister said.
Recently, on a tour to Gadchiroli in Vidarbha region, his helicopter had suffered a technical problem, following which he had to travel by road to Nagpur.
Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao telephoned Fadnavis from Chennai and enquired about his well-being.
The governor said he was shocked to hear the news of the crash-landing and that he was relieved after being informed by Fadnavis that everyone was safe.
Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu also expressed relief that Fadnavis escaped unhurt.
“Spoke to CM Maharashtra @Dev_Fadnavis, thank god he is safe after his helicopter crash lands (sic),” he tweeted.