May 27, Colombo: The wreckage of a helicopter found in northern sea and recovered by the Sri Lanka Navy off Chalai has been identified as belonging to the Sri Lanka Air Force Mi 24 Helicopter CH 614 which went missing in March 1997.
Rotor blades, some parts of the cockpit and air frame were among the debris which were salvaged by the Navy divers on Sunday in the seas about one nautical mile east of Chalai in Mullaitivu and handed over to the Air Force for investigations.
The wreckage salvaged by the Navy divers was inspected by a specialist nominated by the Commander of the Air Force at Kankasanthurai, the SLAF said in a statement today.
"The helicopter crashed with all (passengers and crew) on board and was believed to have been shot down by enemy fire. This was later confirmed by Intelligence Sources," it said.
At the time of the crash, the helicopter was captained by Flying Officer A Malalasekera.
The remaining crew comprising Major Wowa Miller, Major Y Romanov, Air Gunners L A C Arunashantha and L A C Samarakoon and passengers, Flight Lieutenant PHA Senasinghe, Corporal Nandasena and L A C Liyanage were also believed to have perished in the crash.
The SLAF said the bodies of the two air gunners were recovered sometime after the crash, having washed ashore on the coast of India.
The bodies were handed over to the respective Next of Kin and funeral parade formalities were carried out with full military honors.
This helicopter was inducted to the SLAF Fleet in November of 1996 and was on a ferry flight from SLAF Palaly to SLAF Hingurakgoda for routine maintenance when it came under attack.
"No human remains have been found at the site of the wreckage which had undergone severe deterioration due to long term exposure to sea water," the SLAF said.