Ooty: Seventy years ago on December 13, 1950, a Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota VT-CFK of Air India crashed near Kil Kotagiri in the Nilgiris killing all 17 passengers and four crew members.
D. Venugopal, director of Nilgiri Documentation Centre, said a military search party found the wreckage a week after the accident on December 19 in the Denad reserve forest near Kil-Kotagiri, 40 miles north of Coimbatore. The party found the plane completely disintegrated and the bodies decomposed.
The wreckage was found in a rocky valley below Rangaswami Hill, eight miles from Kil-Kotagiri, at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. The military party and medical team from Wellington had to crawl one and a half miles to reach the spot.
Kuttappa Kurup, a forest guard, and a washerman were the first to spot the wreckage. Inspector Mansfield of Ooty police with his party rushed to the place and saw the plane lying "in a million and one bits". The belongings of passengers were lying scattered.
Viswanathan, inspector of post-office, Coonoor, who arrived at the spot with his team salvaged most of the mails. Valuables were brought back by the police.
A military party consisting of 100 officers and sepoys led by Lt. Col. Mukherjee of the Defence Service Staff College at Wellington comprised the search party.
Tigers and wild elephants followed the search team. ‘’As it was considered impossible to remove the bodies from the spot owing to the tough terrain, an inquest was conducted on the spot,’’ Venugopal added.
An army chopper crashed near a jungle in Coonoor in 1982 in which a pilot and co-pilot were killed.