Chopper with French skiers goes missing in Kashmir
16 March 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi: Srinagar, March 16 (IANS) A private helicopter carrying three French skiers went missing on the mountains near the famous Sonamarg tourist resort in north Kashmir Friday after losing contact with the air traffic control here.Authorities here said the chopper carrying a group of 'heli-skiers' left Srinagar early Friday for Gund on the Srinagar-Kargil highway.'As the contact couldn't be established, we rushed police teams to Gund. An Indian Air Force chopper has also been pressed into service to search for the missing helicopter,' said a police officer in Ganderbal district on phone.Besides world famous French skier Sylvain Sudain, there are two other skiers and a pilot who had left Srinagar Friday morning. They have been identified as Daine Schlegel and Julian Escoubas. The pilot Lucyan is also a French national.Heavy snowfall in the past one week made search operation difficult, rescuers said. 'We will have to resume the search tomorrow morning as darkness has already enveloped the area,' the officer said late Friday.'There is also a possibility that the helicopter might have developed a snag and had made an emergency landing. But we are not able to make any contact with the group,' he added.Sudain and 10 foreigners had a narrow escape a few years back after a helicopter had crashed on the Gund mountain range.