Search for Khandu`s helicopter focuses on three areas

Arunachal CM Dorjee Khandu`s chopper went missing some 48 hours ago along the India-Bhutan border.

Updated: May 02, 2011, 13:48 PM IST

Itanagar: Braving inclement weather,
security forces on Monday focussed their search operations at
three pin-pointed locations along the Indo-Bhutan border to
trace the helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister
Dorjee Khandu and four others.

The ground and aerial search was stepped up at the
Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary and Nagajan area in West Kameng
district bordering Tawang besides Mobi village in Tashi
Yangshi district of neighbouring Bhutan, CMO sources said.

The narrowing down of the search was based on inputs
received from satellite mapping by ISRO and aerial mapping by
two Sukhois from Bareilly yesterday, they said.

Defence spokesman based at 4 corps in Tezpur, Colonel
Joshi, said that 35 columns of Army including six ITBP and
three SSB were on the search and rescue operations which
started at around 6.15 am despite bad weather.

"Hard weather condition are creating obstacles in
aerial search operations, but around 4000 rescuers including
personnel from Army, SSB, ITBP and state police are on the
job," state government spokesman Jarbom Gamlin said.

Two IAF MI 17 choppers took off from Tawang to search
for the four-seater, single-engine Pawan Hans helicopter
chopper that went missing 20 minutes after takeoff from
Tawang on Saturday morning.

Besides Khandu, others on board were pilots Captain J
S Babbar, Captain T S Mamik, Khandu?s security officer Yeshi
Choddak and Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.

Areas on the Bhutan side were also being searched,
Gamlin said.

A 30-member team of volunteers from the area from where
the chopper went missing, began a search in the eastern part
of the Himalayan kingdom, he said.

The ITBP deployed six columns comprising 150
personnel on the ground, police sources said.

The IAF had to suspend the search operations yesterday
because of poor weather conditions.