Itanagar: There was no trace of the missing chopper carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others for the third day on Monday as the search operation by security forces had to be called off due to bad weather.
Eastern Air Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal K K Nohwar said in Shillong that infrared images taken by two Sukhoi 30 planes detected 'an aircraft-like something' in an area in Bhutan on which the aerial search was focusing.
The aerial search has been called off for the day, IAF spokesman Ranjib Sahoo said in Shillong adding two Mi17 choppers carried out sorties for about three hours from Tawang base in the morning but were subsequently grounded due to bad weather.
"The two Mi17 helicopters began sorties at 6:15 am from Tawang. They were supposed to take off at 5:00 am but were delayed due to the weather," Sahoo said.
"The choppers will resume search operation tomorrow depending on weather conditions," Tezpur-based Defence Spokesman Colonel N N Joshi said.
"Tomorrow, if the weather permits, six helicopters will conduct the aerial search. Two Mi17s from Tawang, two Cheetah helicopters from Tezpur and two Chetak helicopters from Guwahati are being planned pressed into service at 5:00 am tomorrow," Sahoo said.
Helicopters from Guwahati and Tezpur could not take off due to weather so far, he said.
Col Joshi said search and rescue operations began today at the crack of dawn with the strenghth of the forces increased.
There were at present 35 columns involved in search operations. Of these, 26 columns were from the Army and nine of the ITBP and SSB combined, he added.
The operations during the day were narrowed down to three locations on Indo-Bhutan border.