Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy still untraced after his copter went missing

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009, 18:20
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Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is still untraced after his helicopter went missing in bad weather in a thick forest, which is a stronghold of the Maoists, on the morning of Wednesday, September 2, 2009.

Update 3: YSR dead, Congress sources confirm.

Update 2: Congress sources tell CNN IBN Tv channel that five dead bodies have been found at the crash site.

Update 1: Andra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s helicopter has been traced – air forces told media that the helicopter is in a mangled state on top of a hill. Initial reports are grim; no human activity seen around the helicopter. Chances of survival grim.

The air traffic control lost communication with YSR Reddy’s helicopter at 9.12 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the director of Hyderabad Airport.

Photo: AP CM YS Rajasekhara Reddy

Photo: AP CM YS Rajasekhara Reddy

Search by helicopters, which was called off owing to bad light and weather conditions, will resume on Thursday morning, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said in New Delhi.

The government has sought the help of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). NASA’s help was sought to obtain pictures of the Nallamalla region over which the helicopter was flying.

Remote-sensing aircraft as well as Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi jets are being used in the search operations, being conducted extensively by 14 separate groups.

The search on foot by officials of the forest and revenue departments of Andhra Pradesh is being carried out around the point where the helicopter is thought to be seen last.

Personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) also are moving on foot. The Union Home Ministry had rushed 5,000 CRPF personnel to the area from the nearby states of Chattisgarh and Orissa.

National Security Advisor M K Narayanan completely ruled out the possibility of Naxals bringing down the helicopter of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S R Reddy that went missing in the state, saying the ultras did not have such a capability. However, that does not mean he is safe from the Naxals.

Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister K Rosiah and State Chief Secretary Ramakanth Reddy have requested people in the Nallamalla forest region – which covers Kurnool district and neighboring districts – to inform the police if they learnt of anything about the missing helicopter.

A spokesman of the Congress Party – to which Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy belongs – said that the “fate of YSR has caused tremors in New Delhi” and that the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the office of Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi are in touch with the Andhra Pradesh government.

By noon Tuesday, TV channels were announcing that the helicopter had actually landed; but that soon went back to confusion again as there was no confirmation of the same. It may have actually happened, but there has been no communication at all in more than 15 hours – leading to fears that the worst could have happened.

In many ways, it is amazing that an aircraft went down, and no one seems to be able to locate its position. A simple GPS locator is all it takes – even in the jungle – to have an indication accurate within meters. Just goes to show that our security apparatus is nowhere near tech-savvy as your average Indian college kid.

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