New Delhi: Missing Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu's helicopter crash site has been located in the area of Lobothang, according to Union Home Ministry. The search party is now trying to reach the bodies which have been sighted just north of Sela Pass, the third highest pass in the world.
Search parties are moving in from three areas towards the crash site. The first party has started from Ramasapper, the second from Jung Waterfalls and the third from Lobothang. The nearest habitation to the crash site is a place called Sujula and reaching Sujula from Lobothang, which is six kms away, is going to take time.
The six km long road is snow filled and strong winds are making it tough for helicopters to land near the crash site. Home Ministry sources say that the search teams are unlikely to reach crash site on Wednesday as the area is snow laden.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said that some villagers had reached the crash site and have seen five bodies.
"Some villagers have reached the crash site and they had interrupted communication with the DIG at the control room. According to the communication by the villagers three bodies are charred. No official team has been able to reach the spot. So official confirmation is awaited," Chidambaram said in New Delhi.
"A Cheetah helicopter flew over the site and noticed helicopter debris and some bodies at the site. Though it will take some more time before there could be an official confirmation but the news is grim and sad," he added.
"The spot where the debris has been located is near Sela pass," said Kiren Rijiju, Advisor to Arunachal Chief Minister.
"The terrain is very difficult. It will take at least one day to reach there. The area is snow bound and the altitude is very high. We are on the way to the spot. We may reach there by midnight," Rijiju added.
Three bodies sighted
Three bodies were sighted along with wreckage of an aircraft at a place on the path the helicopter carrying Dorjee Khandu and four others had taken and the worst is feared.
Breaking information that is "not encouraging and not good news", Home Minister P Chidambaram said at a place between Kyela and Lobothang a party sent by circle officer sighted what appears to be an aircraft.
"They have sighted three bodies. This sighting has been made from a height. They have not been able to go down to the place where the aircraft is crashed. The message has been given to the nearest Army post which is sending a team," he said.
"The search party will take about half-an-hour to one hour to reach the suspected crash site," he said.
Chidambaram said that an Army team has been dispatched on foot to the crash site and "we will know more about the crash site and the bodies lying there once they reach there".
The place is located at a height of 4900 metres and, therefore, it will take some time and difficulty to reach there, he said.
"When they reach there, they will communicate to us what they have found there," the Home Minister said, adding he was unable to state as to what type of aircraft or whose bodies they were.
"But I am afraid it is on the flight path of the chopper after it had taken off from Tawang. We are keeping our fingers crossed and let us wait for the official word to come from the team," he said.
The single engine four-seater Pawan Hans helicopter with Dorjee and four others on board went missing soon after taking off from Tawang on Saturday.
Besides Khandu, others on board were pilots Captain J S Babbar, Captain T S Mamik, Khandu s security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.
Inclement weather had prevented teams from carrying out aerial searches.
(With additional information from PTI)