Search called off after reports of chopper landing

New Delhi: The search operation to trace the missing chopper carrying Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was called off yesterday after media reports claimed that it had landed safely, Army Chief General V K Singh said here on Sunday.

However, he said that the operation was resumed this morning and no further information has been received so far.

"The operation (to search the missing chopper) was called off yesterday after media reports that it had landed safely. But it was resumed today morning and so far there is no further information on it," General Singh said on the sidelines of a seminar here.

There was a state of confusion yesterday in the afternoon with claims made by Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen (retd) J J Singh first and then by the Chief Minister`s Office and Defence spokesperson that the Chief Minister had landed safely in a place called Daporijo in Upper Subansiri district there.

The CM`s office had said the helicopter had landed in a place in Bhutan.

However, later in the evening denials came from all concerned saying helicopter had not been located and search operation was still on.

"The helicopter is missing and the search operation is still on," Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai had said here last evening.

The Arunachal Pradesh government said that it is yet to ascertain the whereabouts of the Pawan Hans chopper which went missing since morning with the Chief Minister and four others on board.

Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Robin Hibu had said joint search operation for the missing copter will be conducted by Army, Air Force and state police from today morning by air and through ground.

The five on board included crew members Captain J S Babbar and Captain K S Malick, Khandu`s security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.

Defence spokesman Wing Commander Ranjeev Sahoo had said in Shillong that two IAF Cheetah helicopters were sent for the rescue and search operations.

"They have flown from Tezpur and searched the route from Tawang to Itanagar. Because of inclement weather they had to come back after two hours of search. But they could not locate the missing chopper. If needed they would be sent again tomorrow," Sahoo had told PTI.

Pawan Hans officials from Guwahati had said "We have not been able to contact our pilots and unless we receive information from them, we cannot confirm any report".