ISLAMABAD:(APS) Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Friday’s helicopter crash in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Naltar Valley happened due to engine failure, ruling out the possibility of any terrorist activity.
While addressing a press briefing, the foreign secretary expressed grief and extended the government’s condolences over the sad demise of foreign dignitaries in the incident.
The trip was of a diplomatic nature and was planned to highlight development activities in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, said Chaudhry. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to inaugurate a Ski chairlift in the area, where Islamabad-based diplomats and their wives were also invited.
Four helicopters were carrying diplomats and officers to the event and one of them, which was carrying 19 people including high-level diplomats, met an accident just yards away from its landing site, said the foreign secretary. “we have recovered the black box and investigations are underway.”
Of the 19 people on board at the time of the crash, 12 were foreign dignitaries, two pilots and five crew members, he added.
The prime minister was also scheduled to land in Naltar, but after news of the crash, he was flown back to Islamabad. “PM Nawaz did want to go to the crash site, but his visit would have required many security formulations that are currently being utilised in the relief and rescue operation, which is why he cancelled his plan,” said Chaudhry.
The Air chief, however, did make it to the spot and closely monitored the operation, said Chaudhry.
Those who lost their lives in the accident include Ambassadors of Philippines and Norway, wives of Malaysian and Indonesian envoys, two pilots Major Faisal and Major Altamash and a crew member Subaidar Zakir.