Weather major impediment in search for Khandu's helicopter

Last Updated: Tue, May 03, 2011 15:43 hrs

Shillong: With bad weather impeding the search for the missing helicopter carrying Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others since Saturday, the weather office today forecast that it was unlikely to clear up over the next three days.

Rain and thundersquall were forecast over about 80 per cent of Arunachal Pradesh for the next 24 hours, Guwahati- based Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) sources said.

"Thundersqualls with wind speed exceeding 50 kmph may occur over some places in the state," the sources said, adding the weather was unlikely to clear in the next three days.

On reports of snowfall in the Sela Pass which has made search operations more difficult, the sources said rain and snowfall was a normal phenomenon at 13,700 ft.

"There can be snowfall in those areas. It won't be any deviation from normal," the sources said.

"Specific forecast is difficult as these are remote locations and we don't have observatories or manpower there."

An IAF official said even if the helicopters could fly, the cloud cover will prevent sighting of the valley areas.

Bad weather, including cloudiness and snow fall, is compounding problems for the security personnel who are negotiating hostile terrain in search of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and his missing helicopter since Saturday.

Aerial search for the missing chopper has been restricted to the morning due to bad weather.

Today, two Mi17 helicopters could fly only for about 45 minutes even though six choppers were planned for today. Even during the last couple of days, the helicopters could fly only for a couple of hours.

Ground search parties have also not been able to make much progress due to the same reason.

ITBP IG MS Bhurji said difficult terrain and inclement weather has slowed the movement of the search parties.

"They are moving at about 1 to 2 km per hour," he said.

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