Katra: Seven pilgrims, including a woman pilot from Kerala, were killed Monday when a chopper carrying them to Vaishnodevi shrine crashed in Katra after catching fire following a suspected bird hit.
The chopper crashed soon after taking off for Sanjichat helipad, which is close to the shrine, from the base camp at Katra in Jammu's Reasi district. "A burnt bird was found near the crash site and it appears the chopper hit the bird before colliding with the electric wires near by," police said.
The shrine is located at a height of 5,200ft on the Trikuta hills. It is a 12km trek from Katra. Several pilgrims prefer to take the chopper ride to reach the shrine.
The pilot has been identified as Sumita Vijayan, from Avananchery of Attingal. She had been employed as a pilot with Himalayan Heli Service.