PESHAWAR, July 4 Investigations have begun into the cause of the helicopter crash that killed 41 security personnel on Friday, but there are indications that the ill-fated MI-17 might have gone down because of overloading.

Experts from the army's aviation wing are looking into technical aspects to determine the cause of the crash.

But Dawn's own inquiries have revealed that the Russian-made military transport helicopter can carry 32 people, or an equivalent weight of 4,000 kilograms.

According to one former aviation expert, the helicopter carrying 41 people was obviously overloaded. Residents of Parachinar also saw the helicopter flying at an unusually low altitude over lower Kurram, probably groaning under excessive weight.

The road to Parachinar from Hangu has been closed for the past four months because of militants' attacks and the resultant insecurity, sparking a frenzy for a helicopter ride out.

One official said that an increase in the number of those who found a place on MI-17 could be explained by a lack of frequent helicopter service to Parachinar.

The military is hard-pressed with few transport helicopters, most of them aging, in view of the expanding war theatre to fight militancy in Fata and Malakand.

Meanwhile, the last rites of those killed in the helicopter crash in Chapri Ferozkhel were performed at Pando Ground here on Saturday morning, a security official said.

Sixteen bodies were to be dispatched to Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram tribal region, by helicopter which, however, could not fly due to inclement weather.

Some of the bodies were flown to Multan, while others were taken to their ancestral areas through ambulances.

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