Kochi: Triggering panic ahead of the two-day visit of Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operated by the Southern Naval Command crashed at Willingdon island here on Tuesday.
Sources said a major tragedy was averted as the UAV hit an empty tank in the bulk liquid fuel terminal. Fuel filled tanks, which were in the vicinity, remained intact.
The Israeli-made Searcher II UAV was on a routine surveillance sortie and crashed around 10.25 a.m, shortly after takeoff. “The remotely piloted aircraft failed to attain the expected height and came crashing down,’’ sources said.
It was also said that the crash took place near the bulk liquid terminal operated by HHA tank at Willingdon Island.
An official statement said the aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the HHA tank terminal on the northern side of Willingdon Island. However, there was no casualty or damage to property. A board of inquiry was being constituted to investigate the cause of accident, it said.
The UAV was part of the naval air squadron, INS Garuda, which comprises the Israeli aircraft Herons and searchers.
The accident took place about one-and-a-half- hours prior to the arrival of the vice-president at the naval airport here.
In 2010, a Searcher II UAV had crashed between Vathuruthy and Katari Bagh while approaching the runway for landing after a training sortie. In March last year, a Heron UAV operated by the naval command had crashed into the sea, some 30 nautical miles off Kochi, due to engine failure.
Meanwhile, state police chief Loknath Behera has directed Kochi Range IG P. Vijayan to inquire into the crash. The inquiry is to be conducted in detail, seeking all necessary assistance from the Armed Forces and Intelligence agencies and covering the aspects of VVIP safety as well as public safety, said a statement from police information centre in Thiruvananthapuram.