The helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu could not be traced on Sunday, the second day after it went missing. Bad weather forced the Indian Air Force to suspend search later in the day.
However, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, V Narayanasamy, who is camping in Arunachal Pradesh, said in a late night communiquA© that a radio signal was detected and it was being ascertained whether the signal was from the missing chopper carrying Dorjee.
The state government statement on the incident said that Bhutanese authorities have given permission for carrying out air sorties for search and rescue operations in its territory. The statement added that a team of the National Disaster Response Force comprising 38 personnel had proceeded to Bomdila to assist local police in the search operations. The team has the latest search and rescue equipment. Earlier in the day, Indian and Bhutanese soldiers fanned out in the hilly terrain to trace the chopper that went missing on Saturday morning. A crisis management team is supervising the operations and the Prime Minister’s Office is monitoring the overall scene.
However, confusion remained on whether Dorjee’s helicopter landed in Bhutan on Saturday, as claimed by Governor JJ Singh. Intelligence agencies were looking into a satellite phone call that was received by an unnamed Congress MLA close to Khandu, based on which the Governor made the claim. The MLA told the chief secretary and the principal secretary to the chief minister that ‘he believed’ it was Khandu who called him. The caller apparently said ‘he was taking off’ presumably from somewhere in Bhutan.
Around 2,400 personnel from Tawang and Tenga Army camps were engaged in ground search operations, besides six teams of 25 personnel each of Indo-Tibetan Border Police . All senior ministers of the state government, along with Union ministers Mukul Wasnik Minister and V Narayanasamy reviewed the situation. Both Central ministers who reached Itanagar on Sunday were engaged in marathon meetings. The Indian Space Research Organisation could not carry out a planned satellite mapping due to thickness of the cloud. ISRO will make another attempt on Monday. According to a source in the Arunachal government , talks on selecting the probable caretaker chief minister has begun. State Home Minister Toko Dabi , however, told ET: “At present, our whole focus is on rescue operations and we believe that the chief minister will come back safely.”
The Pawan Hans helicopter with five people on board that took off at 9.56 am on Saturday from Tawang helipad went missing around 10.30 am. The chopper was scheduled to land at Itanagar at 11.30 am. Just 20 minutes after taking off from Tawang, all communication was lost. Economic Times