Army team trekking to wreckage site in Arunachal: Chidambaram (Lead)

May 4th, 2011 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) An army team in Arunachal Pradesh was trekking its way to the site of the wreckage of a helicopter believed to be that of Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu in Tawang, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Wednesday.

He said the crash site had been located and some bodies sighted. “Not encouraging and not good news,” the minister told reporters, adding that a rescue team had spotted what appeared to be an aircraft in an area between Kyela and Lobotang at an altitude of 4,900 metres (16,076 feet).

“They have sighted three bodies. This sighting has been made from a height,” he said, adding that the team had not been able to go down to the place of wreckage.

A message, Chidambaram added, had been sent to the army post nearest to the crash site and it had dispatched a team on foot.

“There is some difficulty in reaching the site… Once they reach the site, they will communicate to us what they find. My appeal to you is not to speculate,” Chidambaram said.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed.”

The crash site, he said, appeared to be on the flight path the helicopter could have taken when it took off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m. Saturday.

The debris was found 96 hours later.

The last radio contact with the Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying the chief minister and four others was about 20 minutes after take off as it flew over the Sela Pass along the Chinese border perched at an altitude of 13,700 feet.

The chopper had two pilots and three passengers on board, including the chief minister and his personal security officer. Congress legislator Tsewang Dhondup’s younger sister, Yeshmi Lamu, was also travelling in the helicopter for a medical check-up in Itanagar.

The Arunachal Pradesh government had announced a cash reward of Rs.1 million to anyone who could provide information about the missing helicopter.

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