Pakistan Helicopter Carrying Foreign Diplomats Crashes

Military helicopter with 17 people on board, including 11 foreigners, comes down in Gilgit-Baltistan region, army says.

A Pakistani military helicopter carrying foreign diplomats in the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan has crashed, killing at four people, the military says.

The MI-17 helicopter was carrying 17 people, including 11 foreigners, the military’s spokesperson Major-General Asim Bajwa said in a statement on Friday.

Both pilots and at least two foreign dignitaries were killed in the crash, he said. The 13 survivors had “varying degrees of injuries”.

The aircraft crashed in the Naltar Valley area of Gilgit-Baltistan, about 300km north of the capital Islamabad. Gilgit-Baltistan is located in Pakistan’s extreme north, and is located at the junction of three major mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Karakorum and the Hindu Kush. It is home to more than 100 peaks higher than 7,000 metres.

A witness to the crash told Al Jazeera that it appeared that aircraft had suffered a technical issue. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was due to visit Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday, which the diplomats were visiting as part of a four-day tour.  Sharif was en route to Gilgit when the crash occurred, and has now cancelled his visit, state media reported.

He expressed “deep grief and sorrow” over the crash, according to Radio Pakistan. The helicopter that crashed was part of a group of three, all of which were carrying foreign diplomats on their tour of the area.

Credit: Al Jazeera