Tourist's phone that captured last video of IAF chopper sent for forensic analysis

The Nilgiris District Electricity Department is also investigating at the location of the crash if there were high transmission lines or voltage poles and if they have been damaged.
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The mobile phone of the tourist who captured the last few moments of the IAF chopper before it crashed has been taken into custody by the police and has been sent for forensic analysis to the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory in Coimbatore. Thirteen people, including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his wife, were killed in the crash on December 8.

A day after the IAF chopper crashed, a 19-second video emerged, reportedly capturing the last few moments of the helicopter. In the video that was shared widely on social media, a helicopter flies overhead and disappears into the mist. Joe, who captured the video on his mobile phone, had told TNM that he and some friends 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,” Joe had told TNM earlier. 

Joe had said that when the group reached the site of the accident, he sent the video from his phone to the police as well. The Indian Air Force has not commented on the video yet.

As the probe into the crash continues, the Nilgiris District Electricity Department is also investigating at the location of the crash if there were high transmission lines or voltage poles and if they have been damaged. A letter by the Nilgiris Police has also been sent to the Meteorological Department regarding the weather conditions in the area on the day of the fatal crash. 

The Nilgiris Police, which is using drones as part of its investigation, has also registered a case in connection with the crash and its probe is also underway. The FIR was registered under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The inquiry under this section by police and revenue authorities in the Nilgiris district is in compliance with legalities for the preparation of a summary report on the accident, casualties and damage if any.

Locals from Katteri village were the first to reach the site of the crash and had informed the police and the fire departments about the accident. "IAF thanks the prompt and sustained assistance provided by the Office and Staff of @CMOTamilnadu, @collrnlg, Police officials and locals from Katteri village in the rescue and salvage operation after the unfortunate helicopter accident," the IAF said in a tweet.

With inputs from agencies

On Wednesday, the Chief of Defence Staff was on his way from Sulur air base to Wellington where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Defence Services Staff College. The Mi-17V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force ferrying him crashed before reaching the destination.

Besides General Rawat and his wife Madhulika, those killed in the crash included Brig LS Lidder, the defence assistant to the Chief of Defence Staff, and staff officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh. The other personnel killed in the crash are Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.

Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the crash, is battling for life at the Command Hospital in Bengaluru. A tri-services probe panel headed by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh is investigating the crash.

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