Ground search for Arunachal CM Khandu continues

May 3rd, 2011 - 1:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), May 3 (ANI): Three thousand security personnel were on Tuesday searching the inhospitable altitudes of Sela Pass to trace the missing chopper carrying Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others on board.

Government Spokesperson Jarbom Gamlin said the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) along with police are moving into Naga Jiji of Dirang in Sela Pass, about 85 km from Tawang, from where the helicopter carrying the Chief Minister took to the air on Saturday last.

Two IAF Mi-17 choppers took off from Tawang this morning for aerial search but had to return from Sela Pass due to thick haze over the mountains.

Four MI-17 choppers have been positioned at Tezpur and are likely to conduct search operation if weather condition improves.

Meanwhile, after emerging from a high level meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence, Union Minister V Narayanasamy said the search team would be able to report back by this morning.

He said both the central government and the Bhutan government were giving every possible assistance to the state government in the search for the missing chopper.

The missing Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter that took off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m. on Saturday lost communication with the ground after it flew past the Sela Pass along the Chinese border about 20 to 25 minutes later. The helicopter was scheduled to land in Itanagar at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday.

On Saturday, several media reports quoted Arunachal Pradesh Governor General (retired) J J Singh and Chief Secretary Bam as saying that the helicopter had landed safely somewhere in eastern Bhutan adjoining Tawang district and that the same helicopter was flying back to Guwahati with the chief minister on board.

Bhutan, however, later denied that any Indian helicopter had landed in its territory, but said a search operation was launched following a request from New Delhi.

Apart from Khandu, the people on board included crew members Captain J S Babbar and Captain K S Malick, Khandu’s security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lamu, sister of Tawang legislator Tsewang Dhondup.

The missing helicopter, AS350 B-3, is a single-engine chopper. (ANI)

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