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Search on for 36 missing commandos

Naval divers and security personnel continue search for the 36 missing commandos of an anti-Naxal force on the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Malkangiri
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 02:54 PM IST

Naval divers and security personnel on Tuesday continued to scour the reservoir on the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border for the 36 missing commandos of an elite anti-Naxal force after Sunday's Maoist attack on their boat.

Out of the 66 people, including three boatmen, who were in the vessel during the Maoist strike in Balimela reservoir in Orissa's Malkangiri district, 29 have been rescued so far and one body has been fished out of the water, Superintendent of Police S K Gajbhiye said.

Sixty-one personnel from the anti-Naxal force of Andhra Pradesh known as 'Greyhounds' and two Orissa constables were sailing towards Chitrakonda as part of a joint operation when the ultras sprayed bullets from atop a nearby hill.

Though over 48 hours elapsed since the attack, rescue teams could find only one body raising fears that many of the missing commandos may have drowned. The reservoir is overflowing due to heavy rain.

Senior officers from the two states were monitoring search operation that involved nine divers and more than 500 security personnel, while the police chief of Andhra Pradesh is expected to visit the site shortly.

Along with helicopters including three from the Navy, a dozen boats have also been pressed into service for the search and rescue.

A high alert was sounded in the entire area and combing operations intensified in the naxal-infested belt.

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