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After a marathon ground and aerial search for five days, the Centre on Wednesday confirmed the death of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu in a helicopter crash.
The wreckage of the chopper that carried Khandu and four others had crashed soon after it lost touch with the air traffic control (ATC) barely 20 minutes after it left Tawang on April 30. The state went into mourning following the announcement that the wreckage of the chopper and the CM’s body were located.
It was not the search teams of the Army, Air Force, para-military forces or the police that spotted the wreckage, but the local villagers who had spread across the area in search of their beloved chief minister.
“There was no confusion (that the body of Khandu has been sited near the wreckage) but formal identification will be done only after the bodies are airlifted,” said BK Handique, minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
All “probable locations” that were “zeroed in” based on imagery inputs from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the mapping done by Sukhoi aircraft of the Air Force proved wrong with the wreckage site nowhere close to what they had stated. Based on the inputs from ISRO and the Air Force, the search operation was being concentrated along the Indo-Bhutan border; however, the wreckage was found within the Indian territory.
The wreckage was spotted by villagers near Luguthang, north-east of Sela Pass, around 10.00 in the morning. Soon the locals informed the control room in Itanagar. The location is within Khandu’s home constituency – Mukto. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel were on their way to the spot and were expected to reach there “late tonight” or “early tomorrow morning”.