Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Dorjee Khandu.
Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Dorjee Khandu.

Search operations resume for missing chopper carrying Arunachal CM Dorjee Khandu

NetIndian News Network

Itanagar, May 1, 2011

Massive search operations were resumed early this morning to trace the Pawan Hans helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, which went missing yesterday while on a flight from Tawang to the state capital, Itanagar.

Reports from Itanagar said four Indian Air Force (IAF ) helicopters had been deployed along the Tawang-Itanagar route to look for the chopper.

On the ground, men of the Army and para-military forces have begun search operations along the Indo-Bhutan border, where the helicopter was suspected to have headed.

Apart from Mr Khandu and the two pilots, J S Babbar and K S Malick, the Chief Minister's security officer Yashi Chadook and a female passenger, identified as Yeshi Lamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.

The state government held an emergency meeting in Itanagar yesterday evening to review the situation.

The helicopter had left Tawang around 0950 yesterday and was due to land at Itanagr at 1130 hours. The last contact with it was around 20 minutes after it took off from Tawang and it had crossed the Sela Pass.

Mr Khandu was returning from Tawang after receiving Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who flew to Tawang yesterday to participate in a Speakers' conference there.

The Chief Minister was scheduled to participate in a May Day rally in Itanagar today.

About three hours after the helicopter was reported missing, there were reports that it had landed safely inside Bhutan, but there was no confirmation of this from Pawan Hans or from Bhutanese authorities.

The Bhutanese government has also deployed several search teams in the border area to look for the helicopter.

"The state government has been in constant touch with the Central government and the government of Bhutan as the safe landing of the Chief Minister's chopper in Bhutan is yet to be officially confirmed," a UNI report quoted Arunachal Pradesh government spokesman Jarbam Gamlin as saying.

He urged the people not to panic and to pray for the safe return of the Chief Minister and the others.

(With inputs from United News of India)