Shillong, May 1 : Two IAF Sukhois from Bareilly carried out an aerial search, while a Mi17 chopper which went looking for the missing helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others made two sorties before bad weather forced it to return today.
“Two Sukhoi jets carried out a mission. We are awaiting their report. The weather was bad till noon. It cleared a bit after 1:00 pm,” spokesman at the Army's 4 Corps in Tezpur Col NN Joshi told PTI over phone.
“It gets dark by 4:00 pm. So proper search operations will be between from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm,” he said.
He said, “25-30 army patrol parties were engaged in the search operations. Other security agencies are also on the hunt. Can't say about what the Bhutan army is doing.”
Earlier, Defence Spokesman Wing Commander Ranjeev Sahoo said in Shillong that an IAF Mi17 chopper searched for the missing helicopter, but bad weather forced it to return.
“The chopper made two sorties for over two hours since 6:00 am, but had to return due to inclement weather. The aerial search can resume, only when the weather clears,” he said.
The helicopter from Tawang searched the Bhutan areas besides the Tawang-Itanagar route, he said.
Two Cheetah helicopters were on stand-by at Tezpur and another Mi17 at Guwahati, which could not take off because of the weather, he added.
Defence sources said 30 columns of the Indian Army comprising 2,400 personnel from Tawang and Tenga were searching on the ground for the missing helicopter on the Indo-Bhutan border.
Six ITBP teams with 25 personnel each also joined the ground search operations.
Meanwhile, the Regional Meteorological Centre forecast rain or thunder showers and thunder squalls with wind speed exceeding 50 kmph.
Thunder squalls with wind speed exceeding 50 kmph may occur at one or two places over Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya during the next 24 hours.
The four-seater single-engine Pawan Hans helicopter with the chief minister and the others went missing yesterday 20 minutes after takeoff from Tawang at 9:56 am.
Besides Khandu, the others on board were pilots Captain J S Babbar and Captain T S Mamik, Khandu's security officer Yeshi Choddak and a Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup. PTI