Search for Khandu: ITBP focuses on two areas, including Bhutan

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 18:57

Itanagar/Shillong: Nearly 300 ITBP personnel on Tuesday fanned out on foot heading towards a place five km inside Bhutan and for Nagajiji near the windy Sela
Pass to track the missing helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others.

The aerial search was called off for the day because of bad weather.

"According to inputs from the Arunachal government, local people have have sighted something like an aircraft inside Bhutan. It`s about five km inside Bhutan from the border. Having got the clearance from Bhutanese authorities, one of our teams started on foot this morning," ITBP IG MS Bhurji said to a news agency.

The team, comprising about 35 men, is expected to
reach the spot before night.

Another ITBP team from Dirang in East Kameng district
in Arunachal Pradesh started for Nagajiji near Sela Pass after
infra-red images from IAF Su30s detected an `aircraft-like`
object, he said.

"We have searched the Nagajiji area earlier, but this
time the search would be intense," he said.

It might take close to 10 hours for the men to reach
because of hazardous terrain and steep gradients about 14,000
ft above sea level with bad weather making the trek difficult.

Around 250 ITBP personnel have fanned out mostly
around the Sela Pass and another 60 men were likely to be
deployed soon, the IG said.

The force had launched and unsuccessful search in the
Lungthung area yesterday.

Satellite images from RISAT-2 reportedly traced a few
metal parts in the area, which may be parts of a helicopter,
government spokesperson Jarbom Gamlin said in Itanagar.

The ground search was being made by 3,000 personnel
from the Indian Army, ITBP and SSB with the assistance of the
state police, defence sources said.

Two IAF Mi-17 choppers took off from Tawang in the
morning and after a 45 minute sorties had to return from Sela
Pass because of thick haze over the mountains.

Four MI-17 choppers were stationed at Tezpur for
search operations if the weather improved, defence spokesman N
N Joshi said.

"The search was based on the imagery from ISRO and
aerial mapping by Sukhoi fighters from Bareilly," Lok Sabha
member Takam Sanjay, who is heading a high-level team at
Dirang to monitor the rescue and search operations, said to a news agency
when asked about the detection of an `aircraft-like` object
on the ground.

A Pawan Hans chopper was stationed at Dirang, he said.
There were 50 commands at the disposal of the team,
whose other members were State RD Minister Takar Marde and
DIGP (Intelligence) Anil Sukhla.

Meanwhile, the crisis management committee has been
meeting twice to monitor the situation and was being attended
by central ministers V Narayansamy and Mukul Wasnik, AICC
general secretary Dhaniram Shandil and secretary Sanjay Bapan.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 18:57

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