Search for missing Arunachal CM now extends to Bhutan, other areas


Itanagar, May 3 (ANI): With the search at high altitude Banggajang and Nagarjiji yielding no results, the search teams have been concentrating at five more locations including Putujiji in Bhutan to trace out the missing chopper of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu.

After a high-level review meeting of the crisis management committee (CMC), Minister of State in the Prime Minister`s Office V Narayansamy told reporters that despite heavy rain, snowfall and hostile terrain, thousands of central forces besides local police and people are engaged in massive search operations to locate the single-engine 4-seater Pawan Hans chopper.

The six locations under Dirang circle in West Kameng district are around 13,700 feet Sela Pass, where the chopper had lost contact after taking off from Tawang at 9.56 a.m.

When asked how fruitful would be the imageries received from ISRO and Sukhoi, he said those were much clear than the ones received from a Canda satellite.

Quoting Major General Ojha monitoring and supervising the rescue operation at Dirang, Narayansamy said a 30-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) dispatched by the Union Home Ministry has also joined the 3000 odd force engaged in the ground operation with the full support of Bhutan Government.

“Two IAF choppers took off from Tawang but had to abandon the search operation because of inclement weather this morning,” said Narayansamy, adding that the Defence Minister and Home minister have given clear-cut instructions for extending all possible support in the search mission.

“Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi have been constantly in touch with us including union ministers Mukul Wasnik and B K Handique and AICC general secretary Dr Dhaniram Shandil to get updated information,” he disclosed.

When asked why China`s help is not sought to locate the chopper, Narayansamy said: “The hills in the neighbouring country are much higher for the small chopper to cross for which the CMC has ruled out the possibility of its flying to that country. But if required that possibility could be explored.”

On the non-transmission of signal by the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) in the chopper in case of emergency or crash landing, he said the help of chopper manufacturer, Eurocopter will be sought in this regard.

When asked if the party is considering to appoint a caretaker chief minister till a final conclusion is evolved, Narayansamy said the leadership is fully aware of the issue and act accordingly.

“That will be taken up at a later stage. Our all-out efforts with concentration now aimed at locating the chopper. We pray that we will be able to find Khandu safe and sound,” he added, when asked if a probe into the mysterious phone caller indicating the safe landing of the chopper in Bhutan was being contemplated.

The missing Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter that took off from Tawang on Saturday morning 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.


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