The inhospitable terrain, adverse seasonal conditions, and absence of minimum approach made the recovery of the body of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, whose chopper crashed into a hillock on Wednesday, a near impossible task.
The conditions to reach the crash site were so severe that dozens of civilians, who headed for the crash site, gave up mid-way. As our journey started from Nalla Cheruvu, a small water body 5 km away from this town, slippery roads that prevented the movement of heavy-duty vehicles greeted us.
The sports utility vehicle in which we were travelling could not continue after covering barely a kilometre. Left with no other option and determined to reach the spot, we opted for the road route, treading cautiously on the slippery edges as well as a muddy middle.
The walk finally ended in the Galeru rivulet, virtually eliminating scope for further movement of vehicles. Wading through knee-deep water, we crossed the rivulet, only to be greeted by slushy ground, fresh from the copious rains that were lashing the area for some days now.
As we manoeuvred cautiously through the thick sand to reach relatively harder ground 3 km away, we were faced with thick shrubs with sharp needles covering both sides of the passage. We could put up with the occasional pinches to cross two small streams full of slippery stones barefoot.
We finally managed to step on plain land, only to be told by the accompanying Chenchu tribe youth about the next stage of the journey — an upstream trek through a canal. We overcame this too, and were guided by the Chenchu tribals to the top of a hillock after jumping over slippery rocks, a fall from which could cause serious injuries.
When we finally reached the top of the hillock after covering 23 km, the visibility factor continued to pose a major obstacle. Even as we were cautioned against moving any further on Pavurala Gutta, the hillock abutting the one on which the helicopter crashed, The Hindu senior photographer K. Ramesh Babu was quick enough to jump over a few boulders to reach a higher altitude.
Once the task of capturing the images was through, the return journey, another four-hour essay, was to commence.