Fears worsen as CM Dorjee Khandu remains missing

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Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu’s chopper has eluded search teams for almost four days now. The initial reports that the Chief Minister’s chopper has landed safely in Bhutan have proven to be baseless. There has been no concluding information either from the CM and his team or the searching teams.

On Tuesday, over a hundred rescue workers resumed their search for the lost Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and his missing helicopter. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and SU-30 pictures showed “metallic traces” along Indo-Bhutan border.

Mr. Dorjee Khandu, accompanied by his two security personal and sister of Tawang MLA, had taken off in a Pawan Hans Eurocopter B3 from Tawang at 9:56 am on Saturday, April 30 and was to land at Itanagar at 11:30 am. But it soon lost its contact and was last sighted at Sela Pass, 20 minutes after taking off from Tawang.

The search operations since Saturday morning by army, air force and local police after the chopper was reported lost has been all in vain till now. Three-and-a-half days have passed after the chopper lost contact in a high mountain pass four kilometres above sea level on Saturday. Hopes of finding any one of the five people on board are bleak now.

The search operations have been hampered due to heavy rains and light snowfall making the area difficult to trek.

The federal government sent in Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanswamy and Union Minister Mukul Wasnik to Itnagar on Sunday to take stock of the situation and oversee the search operations.

Apart from Arunahcal CM Dorjee Khandu, the chopper was also carrying pilots Captain J S Babbar, Captain K S Malick, the Chief Minister’s security officer Yeshi Choddak and his relative Yeshi Lamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.

Congress leader Khandu, 56, assumed the Chief Minister’s office in April 9, 2007, replacing his own party’s Gegong Apang.

This is the third major copter casualty in the northeast in less than a fortnight. Earlier this month, a Pawan Hans helicopter with 23 on board crashed at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh on Apr 19, killing 17. On Apr 21, an Army helicopter crashed near Gangtok killing four.

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