Three thousand security personnel were on Tuesday searching the inhospitable altitudes of Sela Pass to trace the missing chopper carrying Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others as inclement weather coupled with overnight rains led authorities to cancel aerial operations.
Government Spokesperson Jarbom Gamlin said the Army, ITBP and SSB along with police are moving into Naga Jiji of Dirang in Sela Pass, about 85 km from Tawang, from where the helicopter carrying the chief minister took to the air on Saturday last.
He said search teams have reached Chabrela, about 6-7 kms from the area, indicated by ISRO yesterday.Satellite images from its RISAT-2 reportedly traced few metal parts in the area, which may be parts of helicopter.
"In any case it will not be possible before 2 pm on Tuesday for us to say anything concrete," Gamlin said.
The ground search operation is being conducted by 3000 personnel from the Indian Army, ITBP and SSB with assistance from state police, Defence sources said.
Two IAF Mi-17 choppers took off from Tawang this morning for aerial search but had to return from Sela Pass due to thick haze over the mountains.
Four MI-17 choppers have been positioned at Tezpur and are likely to conduct search operation if weather condition improves, Defence spokesman N N Joshi said.
Several local people have also voluntarily joined the search as a somber mood descended among the people after the the ISRO satellite report showed metal parts in the area.
Official sources said two commando platoons of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), a Deputy Inspector General of Police and Superintendent of Police were deputed to supervise and closely monitor the ground operation yesterday.
Besides Khandu, others on board were pilots Captain JS Babbar, Captain TS Mamik, Khandu’s security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.