10 dead as BSF chartered plane crashes

New Delhi, Dec 22 (IANS) Nine BSF troopers and a Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) co-pilot were killed when a chartered plane flying to Ranchi crashed here on Tuesday morning soon after take off, authorities said.

The dead included the pilot and co-pilot as well as eight others from the Border Security Force, the BSF said.

BSF Director General D.K. Pathak announced a compensation of Rs.15 lakh to the families of each person who died.

“An amount of Rs.15 lakh will be given from the BSF internal fund in addition to Rs.10 lakh, which is the ex-gratia from the government,” he told media.

The passengers were identified as Deputy Commandant D. Kumar, Inspector S.P. Sharma, Sub-Inspectors Ravindra Kumar, Chotte Lal and Sunder Singh, Assistant Sub-Inspector D.P. Chouhan and Constable K. Rawat.

The pilot was B.P. Yadav and the co-pilot was Rajesh Shivrain, who was attached to the SSB.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said the government had ordered an inquiry.

Witnesses said the aircraft appeared to be unstable as it crossed the boundary wall of the Indira Gandhi International Airport — which also has an area reserved for the military.

“It took a kind of U turn, then suddenly went down, crashed and exploded in a huge ball of fire,” a young man who saw the horrific accident told journalists. “We saw thick black smoke rising up.”

A railway employee close to the site said he and his colleagues saw “a huge fire” after the plane came down. “There was a lot of fire all around that nothing else could be seen.”

The crash took place at 9.37 a.m. in Shahabad village at the edge of the airport. The plane was a Beechcraft Super King.

Twenty fire tenders battled the flames, the Delhi Fire Service said.

The Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd said a “serious tragic incident occurred outside the airport boundary wall” within minutes after the plane took off.

It said the airport authorities immediately activated the full emergency operation. “Flight operation at the airport continues.”

President Pranab Mukherjee said he was sad to learn about the deaths. “My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was pained by the loss of lives. “My thoughts are with the families of the deceased.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who visited the crash site, called the deaths “extremely painful”.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi also expressed grief.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the disaster was “extremely unfortunate”.

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