Kohima, Aug 18 (IANS): An Indian Army helicopter went missing shortly after take-off in Nagaland today with three people, including two pilots, on board. The locals claimed they have sighted the wreckage and recovered two bodies.
A defence spokesperson said the four-seater Cheetah helicopter took off from the army's Rangapara base in Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial hub, en route to Manipur capital Imphal around 8 am and lost contact around 8.20 am.
"There were three people on board, two pilots and one army personnel. We do not have much details but the helicopter was on a training sortie," army spokesperson R Kalia said.
An army officer, R Palta, said, "All we can say at this point in time is that the helicopter has lost contact and we have since begun an aerial search, besides people on the ground have also been pressed into action."
Witnesses, however, said the wreckage of the helicopter was found near a hillock in Viswema village, close to Kohima.
"Two bodies have since been recovered with fire still billowing out from the wreckage site," T Angami, a village elder, said by telephone. "Villagers saw the helicopter plummeting from the sky - it was like a big fire ball dropping down," he said.