Six die in helicopter crash carrying foreign diplomats

Ambassadors from Philippines and Norway die in crash during emergency landing

A coffin emerges from a Pakistani Army helicopter on its arrival at Gilgit Airport in Gilgit, Pakistan. The ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines to Pakistan were killed when a military helicopter crashed into a school in the north of the country an army spokesman said. The wives of the Indonesian and Malaysian ambassadors also died, along with the two pilots. Photograph: Zafae Abbas/EPA

A coffin emerges from a Pakistani Army helicopter on its arrival at Gilgit Airport in Gilgit, Pakistan. The ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines to Pakistan were killed when a military helicopter crashed into a school in the north of the country an army spokesman said. The wives of the Indonesian and Malaysian ambassadors also died, along with the two pilots. Photograph: Zafae Abbas/EPA

 

Ambassadors from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia have been killed as a Pakistani army helicopter carrying foreign dignitaries crashed in the country’s north, the military said.

Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said the MI-17 helicopter made the emergency landing in the northern area of Naltar.

The helicopter’s two pilots were also killed, he said, adding that the 13 surviving passengers, including the Dutch and Polish ambassadors, suffered “varying degree of injuries”.

The helicopter was on the way to the city of Gilgit where prime minister Nawaz Sharif was to attend a public ceremony to inaugurate a newly installed chairlift at a ski resort.

Mr Sharif was in his own plane en route to Gilgit when the “tragic news” was conveyed to him, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. It said Mr Sharif returned to Islamabad early in the wake of the crash.

In his statement, Mr Sharif expressed his “deep grief and sorrow over the tragic incident” and said he “extended heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives in this incident”.

The Pakistani Talban issued a statement claiming it shot down the helicopter with an anti-aircraft missile. It was impossible to immediately verify the claim, and unclear if it was an opportunistic attempt to claim responsibility for an unrelated incident.

PA