Helicopter with Arunachal chief minister still missing

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Old 01-May-2011
Helicopter with Arunachal chief minister still missing

UNP ImageItanagar: A helicopter with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu on board is still untraceable hours after it took off from Tawang on Saturday morning, officials said.

"There is no confirmation of any news of the helicopter. There has been no contact with the five people on board, and we don't know the details as of now," MP Takam Sanjay told IANS.

Earlier, officials had gone on record to say the chopper had landed safely in Bhutan.

At around 2pm Arunachal governor general J.J. Singh, (retired), and the chief secretary said the helicopter had landed safely with five passengers. The chief minister's adviser, Kiren Rijiju, confirmed the news and added that the chief minister was flying back to Guwahati.

However, authorities in Bhutan said no Indian helicopter had landed in Bhutanese territory, adding to the confusion. The Indian government is in touch with Bhutan to trace the missing chopper, Rijiju said.

"We are in constant touch with the central government at the highest level. Initially, we had been told the chopper has landed, but conflicting reports are coming in," Sanjay said.

The Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopter owned by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd took off from Tawang helipad, and at an altitude of 11,000ft, headed toward the state capital Itanagar at 9.50am.

The helicopter was scheduled to land at 11.30am.

The helicopter lost radio contact 20 to 25 minutes after take-off when it was flying over the Sela Pass.

Besides two pilots and the chief minister, a personal security officer and a woman relative of Dorjee Khandu were on board.

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