South Asia

India search for missing helicopter continues

File picture of Dorjee Khandu
Image caption Mr Khandu was travelling with four others

A massive search operation for a missing helicopter carrying the chief minister of India's north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh and four others has entered its third day.

The helicopter carrying Dorjee Khandu went missing on Saturday morning, 20 minutes after taking off from Tawang on its way to the state capital, Itanagar.

Bad weather has been hampering the search operation, officials said.

A number of Indian politicians have been killed in helicopter crashes.

In 2009, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state YS Rajasekhara Reddy was killed along with four others in a helicopter crash in southern India.

And in 1997, junior federal minister NVN Somu and two senior army officers were killed when an air force helicopter they were travelling in crashed in Arunachal Pradesh.

Satellite help

Indian air force fighter jets and helicopters have joined ground troops from India and across the border in neighbouring Bhutan to look for the helicopter carrying Mr Khandu.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has also provided satellite pictures of the route that the helicopter, owned by Pawan Hans company, was scheduled to take on its way to Itanagar.

The other passengers on the helicopter were Mr Khandu's security officer Yeshi Choddak and a relative of a state lawmaker, Yeshi Lamu, and two crew members JS Babbar and KS Malick.

There were some reports on Saturday that the helicopter had landed in Bhutan, which were immediately denied by the authorities in Thimphu.

Last month, 17 people, including two children, were killed in a helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh.

And in November, an air force helicopter crashed minutes after take off, killing all the 12 passengers on board.

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