Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and the Pawan Hans helicopter carrying him and four others remained untraced for the fourth consecutive day as snowfall and heavy downpour prevented ground search teams from reaching the actual spot at two of the seven locations identified on the basis of satellite data made available by the Indian Space Research Organisation and mapping done by two Sukhoi-30. Adverse weather conditions also forced the aborting of an aerial search after two sorties by IAF choppers in the morning.
Union Minister V. Narayanasamy told journalists in Itanagar that ground search teams reached the general area of Nagar GG (grazing ground of yak in the official parlance in Arunachal Pradesh) near the Sela Pass in Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh and other identified locations on Tuesday afternoon but snowfall and heavy downpour prevented the search operation.
A thorough search was expected to be conducted at the Nagar GG location on Wednesday.
The Minister denied allegations by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) and locals that the Centre had not taken timely and adequate measures to trace Mr. Khandu. The AAPSU has warned of an agitation over the delay in the search and rescue operation in the State bordering China.
He also parried a question on a phone call, purportedly made the day the chopper went missing, based on which an official announcement was made that the chopper landed near the Bhutan border and that Mr. Khandu and the others were safe.
A defence release said that due to the vastness and remoteness, the search was being carried out based on a grid system, dividing the area into sectors and sub-sectors, with Brigadiers monitoring search parties personally led and directed by commanding officers.