Times of India
VISAKHAPATNAM: An Indian Navy unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed into a hill at Ganesh Nagar near Gajuwaka RTC depot on Thursday afternoon with residents in the area which is close to Eastern Naval Command (ENC) grateful that a major tragedy had been averted.
Several factories, like HPCL, Coromandel and Zinc are located in the vicinity but no loss of life or property has been reported.
The accident occurred between 2.30-3 pm when Israeli-origin searcher, MK II UAV, was returning to base following a sortie which, rumours suggest, was flown to reconnoitre Maoist stronghold areas as part of Operation Green Hunt.
This is the second time that a Navy aircraft has crashed in the last two years. In February 2010, a Chetak helicopter crashed into Sarada river between Anakapalle and Tummapala, 55 km from here. The pilot was killed and three officers were injured in the incident.
There was a big explosion seconds after the UAV crashed and the aircraft was reduced to ashes within minutes of hitting the hill. Thankfully, the accident site was 150 metres away from a densely populated slum that is situated on the hillside.
Within half-an-hour of the crash, two Navy choppers appeared overhead to conduct an aerial survey. The ENC personnel recovered the black box from the accident site. Sources said that the UAV belonged to the southern command. The MK II tactical aircraft is used for surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance and damage assessment. “UAVs are used by the Navy during exercises and operational deployments,” a defence expert said.
About 5,000 people gathered at the spot soon after the crash. “I came out of my house after hearing a loud explosion to see smoke rising from the hill,” Mallikarjuna Rao, a resident of Ganesh Nagar, said. The Navy has ordered an inquiry into the circumstances which led to the crash.