Joe and Naseer were walking through the forests in Katteri Park in Nilgiris district on the morning of December 8, taking pictures of the scenic route, when they heard a loud helicopter noise. Joe turned his camera to the skies to capture the helicopter flying overhead, and that 19-second video has now emerged to reportedly be the last moments of the ill-fated helicopter that crashed, killing 13 people on board, including Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat.
In the video that was shared widely on social media, a helicopter flies overhead, and disappears into the mist. After a while, a muffled explosion-like sound is heard, and the sound of the trademark helicopter stops suddenly. The people in the video get startled by the sound, and turn around towards it to try and figure out what it is. “What happened? Did it fall? Did it break?” Naseer, seen in the video, is heard asking. “Yes,” Joe, who was recording the video, responds.
Joe shares that they were on a picnic in the area with his friends and family when they heard the helicopter fly above them. “We went to the railway track where a lot of tourists clicked pictures. Coincidentally, we saw this helicopter and I turned to film it. It went into the mist and a few seconds later there was a loud thudding noise. After that there was no sound. My friend asked whether it fell down and I said yes. We walked further and in around 15 minutes we saw a police jeep rushing there. They were not sure where the accident happened, so we gave them directions.”
Naseer, who hails from Coimbatore and runs a printing press there, says he was on an Ooty trip with his friends. “As we reached near Katteri Park, my friend suggested that we take pictures near a railway track there. After taking pictures, as we were returning, we heard a loud helicopter noise above and my friend took a video of it flying. In the span of a few seconds, we heard the helicopter hit a tree and then fall down with a huge noise,” Naseer says.
“The fog, at that time, was very thick. In a fraction of seconds, we could not see the helicopter; it disappeared into the thick mist,” Naseer recounts.
Naseer says they were petrified and began to move quickly towards the sound of the loud explosion. “We were moving quickly and after reaching the spot, we saw fire officials, officials from rescue services, and the police arrive. When we asked them, they said that the helicopter met with an accident,” Naseer says.
The video was shot around 12.20 pm, Naseer says, adding that he informed the police and sent them the video they had captured. “This is truly a heartbreaking incident that unfolded before our eyes,” Naseer says.
The Indian Air Force has not commented on the video that seems to have captured the last moments of the IAF Mi17V5 helicopter that crashed on Wednesday, December 8, killing 13 of the 14 people on board.
The Mi17V5 helicopter that went up in flames was transporting CDS General Bipin Rawat from Sulur to Wellington, where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Defence Services Staff College. The chopper was supposed to land in Wellington at 12.15 pm. However, the air traffic control lost contact with the chopper around 12.09 pm and the helicopter crashed around 12.20 pm. Fourteen people were on board the helicopter, and 13 of them were killed. The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is currently under treatment at an Army hospital in Bengaluru.