A helicopter carrying pilgrims has crashed into a mountain killing all on board in a horrific tragedy.
The pilot was flying six passengers who had just visited the Kedarnath shrine near Garud Chatti in Rudraprayag, India, at 11.40am on Tuesday when their helicopter burst into flames.
All seven of them died at the crash site, according to officials who are investigating the cause of the air disaster, currently believed to have been impacted by the weather.
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C Ravi Shankar, the CEO of the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority, said: "The exact cause of the accident will be known after a proper investigation."
According to India's NDTV, a loud noise was heard in the mountain range before the helicopter caught fire.
A source told the media outlet: "A Bell 407 helicopter VT-RPN belonging to a Delhi-based Aryan Aviation has crashed on the way from Kedarnath to Guptkashi, possibly due to cloudy weather."
Shocking images show the fiery aftermath on the steep, grassy mountainside with chopper debris scattered as a massive plume of smoke rises into the sky.
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The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the local police working together on a search and rescue operation.
Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has ordered a detailed inquiry into the crash and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has taken to Twitter to update those concerned.
Jyotiraditya wrote: "The helicopter crash in Kedarnath is extremely unfortunate. We are in touch with the State government to ascertain the magnitude of the loss, and are constantly monitoring the situation.
The Office of the Prime Minister of India also tweeted: "Anguished by the helicopter crash in Uttarakhand. In this tragic hour, my thoughts are with the bereaved families: PM @narendramodi."
President Draupadi Murmu added: "The news of the death of many pilgrims including the pilot in the helicopter crash near Kedarnath Dham is very sad. My deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones."
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