Wreckage of ill-fated chopper spotted

Search operations on to locate bodies in dense forests about 12 kms from Khonsa

Our Correspondent

Itagar, August 10: The wreckage of the Pawan Hans chopper missing since August 4 last was spotted this morning between Thinsa and Sanglian villages, about 12 km south-east of Khonsa, headquarters of Tirap district of Aruchal Pradesh, bordering Myanmar.

Disclosing this DGP S Nitithyandam said that ground search parties have launched massive search operation in nearby areas to locate the bodies.

The Dauphin VT PHK helicopter of the state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL), piloted by captain M S Brar and captain Rajiv Hoskte, had taken off from harlagun helipad around 8.30 am on August 4 last, landed at Khonsa en-route to Mohanbari and took off again at 10.15 am with Tirap DC Dr Kamalesh Kumar Joshi heading for Londing, but had gone missing after a few minutes.

Massive search operations for the missing chopper by Tirap and Changlang district administration, security forces including the Army, Assam Rifles, police and the civil society was launched under the control of Changlang deputy commissioner Chanchal Yadav based at Khonsa.

Besides the massive ground search operations in all suspected locations in the district, five choppers including those of the Army and IAF Mi-17, A1-30, Chetak, Boeing (alone four hours) and Sukhoi-30MKIs (90 minutes) conducted several unsuccessful recces.

Shillong-based Eastern Air Command AOC-in-C Air Marshall S P Deb flew a multirole Mi-17 V5 while continuing the recce to trace the missing chopper on Sunday.

A deep sense of grief had shrouded the state with Chief Minister bam Tuki and Chief Secretary Ramesh Negi constantly monitoring the search and rescue operations, while Dr Joshi's wife Neha and brother had reached Khonsa on August 6 last, waiting impatiently for any news.

This is the fifth major accident of Pawan Hans chopper after August 6, 2010 when a chopper door had opened mid air and cabin crew Dhanjoy Roy had fallen from 10,000 feet to death. On May 08, 2001 a chopper piloted by DGM Capt V K Dhir had crashed, killing state education minister Dera tung, education secretary Sange Lhaden, union HRD ministry's deputy secretary SK Jain and two others.

On April 19, 2011, a Pawan Hans Guwahati-Tawang flight had ploughed into Tawang helipad fencing while trying to land, killing 17 of its 23 passengers, mostly tourists, on board while two more succumbed to burn injuries later. On April 29, 2011, a single-engine AS350 B-3 helicopter crashed in Luguthang hills, killing the then chief minister Dorjee Khandu and four others after taking off from Tawang helipad.

The PHHL has now ordered an interl inquiry, followed by another ordered by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to find the cause of the accident, civil aviation secretary B M Mishra informed earlier.

Chief Minister bam Tuki called a meeting with the CS, DGP and civil aviation secretary after the report of finding the wreckage was received.

"The Air Force has confirmed that the wreckage of the missing helicopter has been found 12 km south of Khonsa, the headquarters of Tirap district," Union minister of state for Home Kiren Rijiju said in New Delhi today.

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