Itanagar: A massive search continued for the second day on Wednesday in Arunachal Pradesh for a missing helicopter which was carrying three people, including Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Joshi.
District officials said rescue teams from the army, Assam Rifles and police were trekking through the forests near Deomali in Tirap district since Wednesday morning looking for the Pawan Hans chopper which went missing around 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
Indian Air Force choppers were also pressed into service for aerial search.
The chopper was carrying Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Joshi and two pilots from Khonsa in Tirap district to Longding district.
Officials on Wednesday said bad weather hit the search and rescue operation.
"The search operation resumed early today (Wednesday). However, bad weather affected the search," an official said.
He said ground teams were combing Deomali area from where the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Dibrugarh received the last signal from the helicopter before it disappeared.
He said some villagers near Deomali said they heard a blast like sound around 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the missing Dauphin VT-PHK helicopter owned by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd took off from Khonsa at 10.15 a.m. for Longding and lost communication with the ground after the ATC contacted the pilot five minutes after departure.
"We have not been able to locate the missing helicopter in view of the inclement weather in the state," Arunachal Pradesh police chief S. Nithianandam told IANS.
"The search and rescue operation is still on," he said.
The missing helicopter was on a routine sortie to Longding and was to return to Mohanbari airport in Assam`s Dibrugarh city when contact was lost. The ATC received the last signal from the chopper near Deomali in Tirap, officials said.
In 2011, then Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu and four other people died after their Pawan Hans chopper crashed at a remote location in the state.
A few days later, another helicopter crashed while landing in Tawang, killing 16 people.
Following the crashes, commercial chopper services were stopped in the state till 2013 when Pawan Hans restarted service in Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of the region.
Pawan Hans Helicopter Services Limited (PHHL) has been operating chopper services across Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and a daily Guwahati-Tawang service for over 15 years.
It is one of the major lifelines in landlocked Arunachal Pradesh.