The Andhra Pradesh Government on Thursday afternoon made a formal announcement that Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and four others, including the pilot of the ill-fated Bell-430 helicopter, were killed when the chopper crashed into a hillside in the dense Nallamala forests. The site of the crash was located 10 kms away from Rudrakoduru village near Atmakur in Kurnool district.
Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, who supervised the search operations from the Secretariat, broke down while making the announcement at a crowded media conference. Describing it as the saddest event in his life, he said, "Dr. Reddy's death is a great loss not only to the State but the entire country". Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao, Chief Secretary P. Ramakanth Reddy and Director-General of Police S.S.P. Yadav were present.
Mr Rosaiah said the helicopter, which took off from the Begumpet airport here, hit the cliff, went up in flames and exploded. The impact was such that the bodies were found charred beyond recognition while the copter itself was strewn all over in "bits and pieces". The only part visible to the IAF helicopter that flew overhead was the tail of the ill-fated chopper.
The bodies would be taken initially to Kurnool for the post-mortem examination and brought to Hyderabad later. Rajasekhara Reddy's body would be taken to his residence in Begumpet and kept there till 10 am on Friday when it would be shifted to Lal Bahadur Stadium to enable the public to pay their last respects. It would be later shifted to his native town, Pulivendula in Kadapa district, in line with the wishes of his family members for last rites.
Similarly, the bodies of the remaining deceased — P. Subramanyam, his Special Secretary, A.S.C. Wesley, his Chief Security Officer, S.K. Bhatia, pilot, and M. S. Reddy, co-pilot, would be taken to their respective residences in the city. The government would extend whatever help was required by their families.
Mr. Rosaiah said UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were likely to fly to Hyderabad on Friday to pay homage to Dr. Reddy. At the same time, several Central ministers would visit the city by a chartered flight.
An emergency meeting of the Cabinet has been convened at 5 p.m. to condole YSR's death and place on record, the services he rendered to the State in various capacities.