Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajshekhera Reddy
The Prime Minister Office has confirmed the death of
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajshekhera Reddy and four others
after their Bell 430 chopper crash-landed about 40 nautical miles
east of the Kurnool mountainous area.
The body of Reddy's principal secretary has also been
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to leave
for Hyderabad shortly.
The reports of five bodies being discovered at the
crash site as been received, and an official confirmation would be
forthcoming in short while. Among the dead are Reddy, his principal
secretary, his personal security officer and two pilots.
Earlier, Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said the
chopper was in a very damaged state.
He had said that the missing
Bell chopper carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajshekhera
Reddy and four others had crash-landed about 40 nautical miles east
of the Kurnool mountaineous area.
Pillai said that as of now he could not hazard a
guess about whether there were any survivors or whether the chief
minister and the people accompanying him were injured or had moved
to another location.
He confirmed that the chopper was in a very damaged
The Home Ministry has ordered para-commandos to
immediately airdrop themselves at the location to determine the
exact physical status of Reddy and the four others. The para-commandos
The para-commandos have been told to report back
immediately on the situation on ground.
“We have located the helicopter. It is on top of a
hill at a distance of 40 nautical miles east of Kurnool. We are
trying to find out whether there were any survivors. We are not sure
whether the chopper crashed. Two Air Force helicopters are orbiting
there trying to find a place to land, but because the chopper is on
top of a hill, it’s a jungle it has been very difficult to land,”
said an Army spokesperson adding that further details were awaited
from the site.
The chopper is said to be located between Rudrakonta
and Rollapenta near Kurnool town. Commandos, police and paratroopers
are moving towards the area.
Meanwhile, the core committee of the Congress party
is meeting in New Delhi to assess the latest developments. The Prime
Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, will convene a meeting of the Union
Cabinet after the Congress meeting to decide on the next steps in
Earlier reports said The Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) would conduct two fly-bys at 9.30 a.m. and 10.30
a.m. respectively with the help of CARTOSAT One and Two as part of
their intensified search operations for missing Andhra Pradesh Chief
Minister Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy on Thursday.
State Government sources said that they have narrowed
down the search to a five-square kilometer radius in the Nallamala
Forest Range where they believe the seven-seat Bell helicopter
carrying the chief minister may have gone down on Wednesday between
9 a.m. and 9.30 a.m.
Notwithstanding a heavy cloud cover, a three-pronged
search operation has been launched. Four helicopters have taken off
for the search. At least 700 villagers, bow and arrow wielding
Chenchu tribals who are familiar with the terrain and former Naxals
have reportedly joined in the search operations.
The State Government has refused to make any comment
on the latest developments in view of the fact that there are
conflicting reports with regard to the copter’s whereabouts. There
is a lot of cross-checking being done to come up with verifiable
Reddy's chopper went missing while he was on his way from Kurnool to
Chittoor. He was accompanied by his Principal Secretary S
Subramanyam and Chief Security Officer A S C Wesley. There were two
pilots also on board the twin-engined Bell 430 helicopter that lost
contact with Air Traffic Control at the Begumpet Airport in
Hyderabad when it was headed for Chittoor district, about 600
kilometres from Hyderabad.
ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair and his team are
monitoring a low flying remote sensing plane. Satellite images are
being used to try and trace the place. So far, 41 images have been
taken but none of them have revealed any information about the chief
As of now the Indian Government has said that it has
not requested the United States for help in the matter, but has
confirmed that the unmanned vehicle that is presently deployed in
the north eastern part of the country is being kept on standby.
The Army, Indian Air Force (IAF), Central Reserve
Police Force (CRPF) personnel, Andhra Police Greyhound commandos
along with local police and district officials has entered the
Nallamalla Forests to launch the massive search and rescue operation
for Reddy. About 250 Army personnel with night vision devices
have joined the search operations.
"We have deployed two columns and one Ghatak (jungle
warfare specialist) platoon in the area for searching the Chief
Minister. Our troops are equipped with night vision devices such as
goggles and hand held thermal imagers," Army officials said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is expected to arrive
in Hyderabad shortly to be with Reddy’s anguished family members and
to get a hand on assessment of the search operation. She has already
sent Union Law Minister and Congress general secretary in charge of
Andhra Pradesh affairs Veerappa Moily and Union Minister of State in
the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chauhan to the city to
monitor developments. Chauhan told press persons that the State and
Central Governments are sparing no efforts to search for the chief
Meanwhile, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan
has said that while both the state and central governments are
extremely concerned and worried about the missing chief minister,
all available resources are being deployed for the search.
He said Army and Air Force helicopters have been
conducting a search of the region. He also confirmed that two
fixed-wing Sukhoi 30 aircraft with synthetic aperture radar
capabilities have been pressed into service.
Forces on the ground are also on the lookout for the
missing helicopter and its individuals.
Narayanan said that the lack of communication is a
major problem and also ruled out the probability of a Naxal strike.
“I don't think the Naxals have the capability to
bring down a helicopter,” he said.
“There is no question about calling off the search
till we discover what happened there. We are hopeful we will find
the Chief Minister, his chief secretary and PSO without serious
injuries,” he added. (ANI)