Nineteen people, including Air Force and para-military personnel and rescued civilians, were feared killed when an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crashed due to bad weather near Gaurikund in Uttarakhand during rescue operations.
Vice Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) M Sashidhar Reddy said eight bodies have been recovered and chances of any survivors among the 19 onboard were remote.
"There were 19 people onboard including National Disaster Response Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and IAF personnel. Eight bodies have been recovered," he said.
A senior Air Force officer in Gauchar said the ill-fated Mi-17 chopper had made two trips to Kedarnath area on Tuesday morning and was on its third trip when it crashed.
The crash occurred in ‘difficult’ weather conditions created by rains and fog, he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also expressed grief over the death of the 19 people.
“We should look at how we can regulate religious tourism, if at all it is possible considering the sentiments of the people, we should do that," he said.
Helicopter rescue operations to evacuate over 9,000 stranded people had picked up pace after rain and fog hit Uttarakhand on Tuesday morning. Currently, the death toll has mounted to 830, with 127 more bodies recovered from Kedarnath.
Official sources said 127 more bodies were recovered since Monday from Kedarnath area. At least 15 bodies of flash-flood victims were found floating in Ganga in different districts of Uttar Pradesh including Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Bijnore.