ITANAGAR, Aug 10 - The wreckage of the missing Pawan Hans helicopter has been sighted in a hilly terrain with thick canopy, 12 kms south from Khonsa, the headquarters of Tirap district in Arunachal Pradesh today after a six-day intensive search and rescue operation by various Government agencies, besides the local people.
�The debris of the chopper, which went missing on August 4 with three persons, including Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Joshi and two pilots on-board was spotted by the Indian Air Force early this morning in a hill covered with dense forest, located 12 kms south off Khonsa,� informed Dr BM Mishra, Secretary, Civil Aviation.
However, the fate of the three occupants, including the young IAS officer Joshi, was not known till the time of filing this report.
The Civil Aviation secretary informed that the rescue teams could not reach ground zero due to heavy rains and unfriendly terrain.
The twin-engine Dauphin VT-PHK Pawan Hans chopper carrying the Tirap DC and the pair of pilots, namely Captains MS Brar and Rajeev Hoskote, went missing on Tuesday last after taking off from Khonsa at around 10.30 am. The chopper lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) minutes after taking off from the Tirap district headquarters for Mohanbari in Dibrugarh via Longding and Changlang.
Detailing today�s search operation, the secretary informed: �At 4:34 hours, one MI-17 and a Chetak helicopter took off from Mohanbari with 9 co-ordinates at hand received from operations of MKI SU30, EW Boeing and imagery intelligence. As reported at around 05.45 hours, both the aircrafts informed the command to have sighted debris of the missing Dauphin VT-PHK helicopter 4-5 km away from Sangliam village in a hill covered with dense forest.�
�The information was immediately passed on to the Assam Rifles for carrying out ground operations. Reports were subsequently received that Assam Rifles has sighted two parts � one tail part and one round part of the helicopter which were verified and found to be of the same Dauphin helicopter.
�Indian Air Force and ground teams were working hard and exploring every possible option to launch a rescue operation, though inhospitable terrain, bad weather and darkness hampered rescue operations today.�
IAF and ground teams are all geared up to resume rescue operations tomorrow morning.
Massive search operations for the missing chopper had been carried out by the district administration, police, Army and para-military forces over the last one week, while the IAF and Army helicopters scoured the dense forests of Tirap to locate the missing chopper.
The locals, including gaonburhas and panchayat leaders also voluntarily joined the search operation even as the State Government announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakh for persons giving concrete information leading to tracing of the missing helicopter.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had ordered a preliminary inquiry into the incident, while the Pawan Hans authorities also ordered an internal inquiry.
Kamlesh Joshi�s relatives, including his wife Neha and his younger brother Rajesh, a Major with the Army, have already arrived at Khonsa. A 2010-batch AGMUT cadre IAS officer, Kamlesh had joined as Deputy Commissioner of Tirap district in June 2013.