AP: Airport fire caused Rs 100 crore-worth damage

Last night`s fire at Old Airport in Begumpet caused a damage of over Rs 100 crore.

Hyderabad: Last night`s fire at Old Airport in Begumpet here caused a damage of over Rs 100 crore, with destruction of six trainee aircraft and one helicopter, official sources said, as the state CID took over the probe.

Following a direction from the Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy to take over the probe, CID sleuths visited the spot today, Additional Director General (CID) T Krishna Prasad said.

An Andhra Pradesh government-owned Augusta (Westland) chopper, meant for the use of the Chief Minister, and six trainee aircraft belonging to a training academy, parked in the hangar, were destroyed.

"It (fire) appears to be due to short-circuit. However, we are probing all angles. According to eye witnesses, the fire started following a short-circuit. The loss could be in the range of Rs 100 crore. We are yet to come to conclusion," Prasad told reporters.

Ten fire tenders from the state fire department and a few others from the Air Force station at Hakimpet managed to bring the blaze under control after about three hours.

"We will conduct a high-level inquiry by a senior official like Home Secretary to find out the reasons for the fire and whether there is any sabotage etc," said Ganta Srinivasa Rao, Andhra Pradesh Minister for Infrastructure and Ports, in Visakhapatnam.

The helicopter had been purchased in 2009 for around Rs 63 crore, and was insured, the Minister said.

In 2008, the Begumpet airport was closed for normal passenger services after an international airport came up at Shamshabad; it is now used for VIP traffic and training.


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