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Bad weather hampers search for Arunachal CM


Sumon K Chakrabarti,CNN-IBN
May 01, 2011 at 09:38pm IST

New Delhi: Massive search operations to find missing Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu began at 5:30 am on Sunday with the SSB and ITBP personnel joining the Army in the massive search operation.

However, bad weather hampered the search operation as helicopters could not take off for the search operation. Six helicopters were stranded, four of which were in Tejpur.

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Pawan Hans suspended commercial operations in North East on Sunday so that these helicopters were available for search and rescue and the DGCA reviews the current situation.

Dorjee Khandu's son and MLA Jambey Tashi Khandu said, "Arunachal Chief Minister has been untraceable and due to the bad weather conditions the search operations have been halted."

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Dorjee Khandu's spokesperson Jambey Tsering said, "The second day search operation has begun. The Arunachal Pradesh CM is still untraceable. Weather conditions have been deteriorating at various locations, but the search operation began early in the morning itself."

Two MI-17s and two Sukhoi 30s scanning the area. Their data will be analysed for further clues. Since the area is close to Bhutan, teams from Bhutan's army are also searching at the seven border districts.

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Khandu's chopper has been untraceable since Saturday morning. The last contact with the Pawan Hans helicopter was made 20 minutes after its take off at 9:56 am on Saturday. The contact was abruptly cut off and since then there has been no trace.

The chopper was carrying the Chief Minister, a police officer, a woman official and two captains.

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On Saturday, there was confusion over whether Khandu's chopper has been found or not.

Chief Minister's office said that Khandu's helicopter had to make an emergency landing due to technical snag near Tawang but inside Bhutanese territory and the CM was safe. However, later the Bhutan government said that they have no information of any chopper landing in Bhutan.

Khandu had taken off from Tawang at 9:56 am and was to land at Itanagar at 11:30 am by the chartered Pawan Hans helicopter.

56-year-old Khandu, who had served in the intelligence wing of the Indian Army, was sworn on April 9, 2007 as the fifth chief minister of the state, replacing Gegong Apang.

On April 19, a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in the mountains of Tawang, bordering Tibet, killing all 17 people on board. The helicopter crashed not far away from the helipad and the DGCA had found that proper fire-fighting facilities could have saved lives.

In the other incident, an army helicopter crashed near Gangtok killing four occupants on board.

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