ITBP rules out Khandu chopper crossing border

Last Updated: Mon, May 02, 2011 15:49 hrs

Shillong: The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on Monday ruled out the helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu having strayed into Chinese territory.

'It is unlikely that anything might have happened that side (Chinese border). But we have alerted our troops,' M.S. Bhurji, the ITBP chief in Eastern Sector, told journalists.

'If at all something has happened, it must have happened in and around the Sela Pass,' he added.

Bhurji said around 100 troopers of the force divided into four parties have been pressed into service for ground search in and around the Sela Pass area, along the Chinese border at an altitude of 13,700 feet.

'The terrain is treacherous and covered with thick forests. Our troops are on foot and covering an area of radius 10-15 km,' the ITBP chief said.

Stating that search operations were based mainly on inputs provided by the Arunachal Pradesh government, he said the troops were conducting search operations mainly during day time.

'The (Arunachal Pradesh) government has given inputs about three or four possible locations around Sela Pass. One of the satellites has picked something in those areas,' Bhurji said.

'Whenever information comes to the control rooms, the troops are alerted and sent for search,' he said.

The helicopter carrying Dorjee Khandu, reported missing since Saturday, remained untraced for the third straight day Monday even as authorities zeroed in on three probable locations to track down the chopper.

'There is no news yet about the missing helicopter but all efforts are on to get some clue,' Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjay said.

The Crisis Management Team monitoring the rescue and search operation has identified three possible locations where the helicopter might have landed or crashed - Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary and Nagajen in the state's West Kameng district, and the small village of Mobi in Trashiyangtse district of Bhutan.

All the three locations border Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh from where the Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying the chief minister and four others was reported missing after it took off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m. Saturday.

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