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Details of Khandu's chopper expected by evening

india Updated: May 04, 2011 10:48 IST
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Rescue teams would be able to provide concrete information on the missing helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu by 4 pm on Tuesday, union Minister Mukul Wasnik said in Itanagar.

"We should be able to provide some definite information about the missing helicopter by 4 pm with army and paramilitary troopers trained to operate in high altitude areas expected to reach the location pinpointed by the ISRO radar," Wasnik, social justice and empowerment minister, told journalists.

The rescue teams, acclimatised to work in high altitude conditions, are trudging towards the snow-capped mountain ranges near Sela Pass where some metallic objects were detected by a radar of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Bad weather conditions, however, were delaying the entire ground search with rescue teams comprising of army, police, and paramilitary troopers, finding it difficult to reach the place called place called Nagarjiji.

"The terrain is hostile and there is snow as well in some of the stretches, and hence the delay. The teams began moving overnight, but to traverse a distance of one kilometre it is taking about an hour," Arunachal Pradesh Home Minister Tako Dabi told IANS.

The first possible clues of the missing helicopter emerged late Monday with ISRO claiming to have located metallic substances at a place called Nagarjiji area near the Sela Pass, perched at an altitude of 13,700 feet, in Tawang district.

The ISRO radar spotted some bright metallic pieces, believed to be the wreckage of the helicopter.

Meanwhile, two Mi-17 helicopters that began a search and rescue mission over the Sela Pass around 6.05 am on Tuesday, were abandoned due to bad weather after 45 minutes.

The Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying the chief minister and four others went missing after it took off from Tawang at 9.50 am on Saturday. The last radio contact with the ground was about 20 minutes after take off as it flew over the Sela Pass along the Chinese border.

The helicopter is a single-engine chopper. In case of an engine failure, there are very slim chances of the helicopter making a safe landing.

The incident comes just days after another Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in Tawang April 19, killing 17 people and injuring six.

The Pawan Hans Helicopter Services Limited (PHHL) has been operating five helicopters across Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and daily Guwahati-Tawang services for the past nine years. It is one of the major lifelines of the landlocked Arunachal Pradesh.