With panic and anxiety writ large on their faces, hundreds of Congress party workers gathered at the state secretariat in Hyderabad waiting to hear some news about the whereabouts and safety of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who remained untraced since his chopper went missing on Wednesday morning.
State ministers, top bureaucrats, a large number of state employees, ruling party leaders and workers descended at the secretariat, the seat of government, as the word spread that the chief minister remained untraced even eight hours after his chopper lost contact with the air traffic control.
With prayers on their lips, the Congress leaders and admirers of YSR, as the chief minister is popularly known, stood outside the D block in the secretariat, which houses the Chief Minister's Office.
They were raising slogans "Long live YSR" as the security personnel had a tough time controlling the crowd.
There was some relief when state ministers told reporters that the chief minister was safe and his chopper had landed somewhere.
There were also reports on Sakshi television channel owned by the chief minister's son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy that YSR was safe and spoke to his close aide KVP Ramchandra Rao.
The channel also claimed that the chief minister would be reaching Hyderabad in an army helicopter any moment.
However, minutes later Finance Minister K Rosaiah told reporters at the secretariat that the chief minister remained untraced.
He only hoped that the chopper had landed in some forest area and appealed to people to help trace it.
"We are worried after what Rosaiah said. We were earlier happy that the chief minister is safe. We are now praying to god," said Sudhakar Reddy, a Youth Congress leader.
Another Congress supporter said: "I am confident that he is safe. He is people's man. He did a lot for the welfare of people. Nothing will happen to him."
At Gandhi Bhavan, the headquarters of the ruling Congress, a large number of women workers were seen praying for the safety of their leader.
Hundreds of others gathered outside the chief minister's camp office in Begumpet bringing the traffic to a halt in the busy area.