Seventy years ago almost to his day on December 13, 1950 a Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota VT-CFK of Air India crashed near Kil Kotagiri in the Nilgiris killing all 17 passengers and 4 crew.
A military search party found the wreckage a whole week after the accident on Dec 19 in the Denad reserve forest near Kil-Kotagiri, 40 miles north of Coimbatore. The party found the plane completely disintegrated and the bodies in decomposed state.
The wreckage of the plane was found in a rocky desolate valley below Rangaswami Hill, eight miles from Kil-Kotagiri, with an elevation of about 6,000 feet. The military party and medical men from Wellington had practically to crawl on hands and feet the last one and a half mile to reach the spot.
Immediately on receipt of information, Messrs. H.C.M. McLaughlin,
Collector of the Nilgiris, T.V.M. Wilson, R.D.O., Coonoor, Ayyannah
Conservator of Forests, went to the spot. Kuttappa Kurup, a forest guard and a washerman were the first to spot the wreaked plane.
Inspector Mansfield of Ooty Police with his party rushed to the place and saw the plane lying “in a million and one bits”. The belongings of passengers were lying scattered about.
Mr. Viswanathan, Inspector of Post Office, Coonoor, who arrived in the party which reached first, salvaged most of the mails. Valuables were also brought back by the police.
After the discovery of the plane wreckage, several persons care forward to claim the reward of Rs.500 announced by the D.S.P of Coimbatore for anyone whose first information led to the discovery of the plane. Great efforts made by Mr. and Mrs. Morris and the Mysore Police to locate the missing plane. A military party consisting of 100 officers and Sepoy’s led by Lt. Col. Mukherjee of the staff College comprised the search party. The search team was followed by angry tigers and wild elephants.”
As it was considered impossible to remove the bodies from the spot owing to the difficult nature of the terrain, an inquest was conducted on the spot.
Among the dead were Andrew Browne Wiseman, the Chief Pilot, Ramnath Narayan Aiyar, Co-Pilot, Cynthia Celine Staggs, Air Hostess, P.K. Kapur of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, C.P. Harry of Mukund Iron and Steel Works, Mr and Mrs, Abraham Wald, world renowned statistician, Mrs. Thein of Britain, Mr and Mrs Robey of Britain, C.G. Marshall of UK, F.W. Saile of Switzerland, and Brig. Abaya Singh.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre.