Tribals find crashed chopper, Khandu’s mutilated body (Night Lead)May 4th, 2011 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS
Itanagar, May 4 (IANS) After four days of search by over 3,000 security forces and choppers, it was finally a group of tribals who Wednesday found the wreckage of a helicopter that went missing Saturday and the mutilated bodies of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others.
Grieving family members also reached the crash site in a remote hilly region and identified Khandu. But the other four bodies were mutilated and charred beyond recognition, officials said.
Even as Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters hovered over the cloudy skies, a small team of tribals led by community leader Phukten telephoned Itanagar to inform that they had sighted the wreckage.
This was around 10 a.m. Wednesday — 96 hours after the Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying the chief minister and four others lost contact with ground control after taking off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m. Saturday.
The location of the wreckage was identified as Lobotang, 30 km north of the 13,700 feet Sela Pass in Tawang district.
“Some family members could identify the chief minister’s body,” a police officer told IANS.
Efforts are now on to get the five bodies to the nearest accessible point. But this might take close to seven hours.
“It would be possibly on Thursday that we will be able to get the bodies back at the first accessible point as the terrain is rough and it is snowing heavily,” Kiren Rijiju, adviser to the chief minister, told IANS.
The IAF said helicopter sorties were planned Thursday morning to transfer the mortal remains of Khandu and the others.
Ranjeeb Sahoo, IAF spokesman at the Eastern Air Command headquarters in Shillong, told IANS that ground forces will take the victims to Luguthang, the nearest helipad around two kilometes away.
Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended in the mountainous state with news of the wreckage being found.
“The news is heartbreaking and we are sad as the chief minister was a real visionary and honest politician. His death has shaken us,” said Bamang Tago, a civil rights campaigner.
The body of the chief minister would be flown into Itanagar Thursday.
The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) findings about metallic objects at a place called Nagarjiji area near the Sela Pass in Tawang has gone awfully wrong, with the actual crash site located far away.
“It would take five to six days of trekking from Nagarjiji to Lobotang and it has exposed the failure of Indian technology,” said Bamang Tago. “We need to rethink and rework our technology.”
Earlier in the day, an official said a Sukhoi-30 was airborne from Tezpur for radio relay of minute to minute communication from the MI-17 helicopter to the operations centre.
“The coordinates of the crash site was conveyed to the operation room which in turn was forwarded to different agencies for reaching the crash site,” he said.
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- Crash site found, Khandu body identified (Afternoon Lead) - May 04, 2011
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- Khandu's death: Arunachal announces seven-day state mourning - May 05, 2011
- Bodies of Arunachal CM Khandu, 4 others taken to Tawang - May 05, 2011
- Rights group demands Arunachal governor's recall - May 06, 2011
- Operation on to retrieve Arunachal chief minister's body - May 05, 2011
- Arunachal chief minister's helicopter crash site located: Chidambaram - May 04, 2011
- Villagers found Khandu chopper wreckage: ITBP official - May 04, 2011
- Army team trekking to wreckage site in Arunachal: Chidambaram (Lead) - May 04, 2011
- With ISRO lead, rescuers search for missing chopper - May 03, 2011
- Five bodies, wreckage of Dorjee Khandu's chopper found (Second Lead) - May 04, 2011
- PM, Sonia to pay last respects to Khandu in Itanagar - May 06, 2011
- Indian state minister killed in helicopter crash - May 04, 2011
- Dorjee Khandu's body arrives in Itanagar - May 05, 2011
Tags: accessible point, as350, chief minister, cloudy skies, command headquarters, community leader, crash site, grieving family, ground control, helipad, hilly region, indian air force, mountainous state, mutilated bodies, pall, pawan hans, seven hours, shillong, tawang, wreckage