Monday, May 2, 2011

IAF detects 'chopper-like object' in Bhutan

Shillong: Images taken by two Su30 aircraft have detected 'an aircraft-like something' in an area in Bhutan on which aerial search is focusing to locate the helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others which went missing on Saturday.
"Su30s with recee pods have managed to pick up something which has been given for assessment. What they have found is something like an aircraft," Eastern Air Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal KK Nohwar said on Monday.
The helicopters are searching with the inputs, he said."The helicopters have made attempts to go to certain areas in Bhutan. Whenever the weather is clearing, the helicopters are being pressed into service," Nohwar said.
He said inputs also came from ISRO on three possible sites.
"Information coming from villagers say they have heard or saw something and are being collated with other inputs and based on that search is being conducted," he said.
Stating that the weather has been hindering the aerial search, the Air Marshal said aircraft are on stand-by in Guwahati, Tawang and Tezpur for search operations.
Asked about the possibility of sabotage, Nohwar said "I don t think so. Let's not jump the gun and talk about all these things."
On the possible reasons of a likely crash, Nohwar said "it is too early to say about the reason. But weather could be one of the causes."
The Pawan Hans chopper, he said, was a brand new one and was only four months old.
"We are concerned about what has happened. From the time we got the information, we have launched our helicopters. The army has also launched a massive operation on the ground," he said.
Asked why Su30s were brought from Bareilly when two squadrons were stationed in Tezpur and Chabua in Assam, Nohwar said the Sukhois in the Northeast lacked mapping equipment.
The four-seater single-engine Pawan Hans helicopter went missing on Saturday 20 minutes after takeoff from Tawang at 9:56 am.
Besides Khandu, the others on board were pilots Captain JS Babbar and Captain TS Mamik, Khandu's security officer Yeshi Choddak and a lady Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.
The chopper was to land at Itanagar at about 11:30 am.
The Guwahati air traffic control had reportedly received the last radio communication from it when it was flying near Sela Pass 20 minutes after takeoff.


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