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Seven Vaishno Devi pilgrims dead in helicopter crash near Katra in J&K

helicopter-crashIn an unfortunate incident, a helicopter ferrying pilgrims from the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine to Katra crashed on Monday, killing all seven people aboard.

The Himalayan Heli Services helicopter crashed in Reasi district at 12.55 pm.

Chopper services have been suspended for the time being, said Danish Rana, Inspector General of Police, Jammu.

Rana added that weather on ground was fine at the time of the incident.

“The helicopter belonging to Himalayan Heli Services had taken off from Sanjhichhat helipad (in Trikuta hills) near the shrine. It was supposed to land at the Katra Bus Stand helipad when it crashed in the mountain area,” a police official said.

“All the seven people on board, including the pilot, have died.”

Those on board the helicopter have been identified as pilot Sunita Vijayan, and six pilgrims Arjun Singh, Maheshwar, Vandana, Akshita, Amritpal Singh and Sachin.

The chopper caught fire immediately on crashing on the mountainside.

Senior police and civil administration officers, including the district magistrate and the district police chief, rushed to the crash spot immediately after the news spread in the area.

​Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to condole the deaths.

Very sorry to hear about the chopper crash in Katra. My prayers are with the families of the victims. RIP

— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) November 23, 2015

Notably, Katra is the base camp of Vaishno Devi shrine. Many pilgrims opt for the helicopter service to reach the cave shrine while others trek on foot.

The shrine is located at a height of 5,300 feet on the Trikuta Hills. Katra town is 50 kms away from Jammu.

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