Hopes of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu being alive were receding fast on Tuesday, three days after his helicopter went missing and suspected to have crashed, but the government said it had reached no conclusion as the search was continuing.
Some metallic objects have been sighted at a place in Bhutan, several kilometers from Sela Pass where the helicopter lost contact, and search parties comprising 3,000 personnel from the Army, Border Roads Organisation, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seema Bal and the Arunachal Pradesh police were trying to reach there.
Nearly 300 ITBP personnel on Tuesday fanned out on foot heading towards a place five km inside Bhutan and for Nagajiji near the windy Sela Pass to track the missing helicopter. The aerial search was called off for the day because of bad weather.
"According to inputs from the Arunachal government, local people have sighted something like an aircraft inside Bhutan. It's about 5 km inside Bhutan from the border. Having got the clearance from Bhutanese authorities, one of our teams started on foot this morning," said ITBP IG M S Bhurji.
A small team of the army is on the stand-by to be inducted in the area by helicopter wherever the wreckage is spotted.
"We have not come to any conclusion. Unless and until the search group gives any kind of report, we will not come to any conclusion. We cannot come to any conclusion," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy told reporters in Itanagar when asked about the fate of Khandu.
Hopes of Khandu being alive are receding fast as there has been no information about him after his helicopter lost contact at around 10.20 hours on Saturday while flying over Sela Pass in Arunachal.
Giving details of the search operation, he said some metallic objects have been sighted 12 km away from Sela Pass and "that area is being concentrated upon and the locals have been asked to cooperate."
Narayanasamy, who is camping here to oversee search operations, said specially-trained personnel of the army, Border Roads Organisation and ITBP are trying to reach the identified location which is a difficult and inaccessible terrain.
Emphasising that the central government was according top priority to the search operation, he said all means are being employed to find the chief minister and others.