No trace yet of Chhattisgarh-bound missing chopper (Lead)

August 4th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Aug 4 (IANS) A private helicopter with four crew members on board, missing since Sunday afternoon after it took off from Hyderabad for the Chhattisgarh capital, remains without a trace despite rescue team making allout efforts throughout Monday, officials said. The officials now firmly believe that the chopper may have crashed in heavy rain somewhere in Maoist dominant forested areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states, close to Chhattisgarh border.

“A rescue police team flew over a vast forested cap of Chhattisgarh’s southern Dantewada district Monday and its bordering areas in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa to locate the missing chopper, but the operation drew a blank,” D.S. Mishra, state’s chief pilot, told IANS.

He added there are four people - pilot, co-pilot, engineer and a technician - on board the missing helicopter.

“The Ran Air chopper was scheduled to land at Jagdalpur in Bastar district headquarters for refuelling Sunday en route to Raipur but it went missing after it took off from Hyderabad at about 2 p.m.,” said A.N. Upadhyay, inspector general of police of Bastar Range.

“The chopper should have taken about 90 minutes to reach Jagdalpur after taking off from Hyderabad,” he said.

According to police officials, the chopper was booked by the Chhattisgarh government to take Home minister Ram Vichar Netam to Jharkhand state Monday for functions at Ranchi and Daltonganj.

Police sources said that the three districts have alerted police stations in their respective areas to step up search to find out whether the chopper made an emergency landing in any Maoist pockets.

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