Pilot, trainee killed as aircraft crashes in Hyderabad (Lead)

September 8th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Sep 8 (IANS) A flying instructor and a trainee pilot were killed when a small aircraft crashed on to a residential area of the city Monday. The mishap took place in the densely populated Sanathnagar neighbourhood at around 11.30 a.m. minutes after the Cessna 152 aircraft of the Andhra Pradesh Flying Club took off from Begumpet airport.

Eyewitnesses said the aircraft first hit an electric pole and then a building before crashing on a street in the congested Noor Mohammed Colony.

The aircraft crashed amid houses, creating panic in the thickly populated area. No one was injured on the ground though a couple of houses were partially damaged when some debris fell on the roofs.

Sub inspector of police Ravi Kumar, who was among the first to reach the scene, said both the occupants of the aircraft were injured but remained tied to their seats by the belts they wore as the flames engulfed the aircraft.

The trainee pilot Srinivasan died on the spot while Captain Neeraj Jain, who was pulled out by the police and local residents, succumbed to his injuries while on the way to hospital.

Neeraj Jain hailed from New Delhi while Srinivasan was from Hyderabad.

Police with the help of local people doused the flames, which damaged a portion of a Ganesh mandap, where a Ganesh idol has been installed for the ongoing Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

“I initially mistook it for a short circuit but then saw an aircraft breaking into pieces. There was panic as people ran out of their houses. It took some time for people to realise what happened,” said an eyewitness.

Police said a major disaster was averted as the aircraft crashed on a street which was virtually deserted.

A technical problem appears to have led to the mishap but the authorities said the cause would be known only after a thorough probe.

By the time police could cordon off the area, hundreds of people gathered at the scene of the crash.

The aircraft took off from Begumpet airport, which was shut down for commercial operations in March this year after the new international airport became operational at Shamshabad, about 35 km from the city. The old airport is being used for non-commercial operations.

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