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Search down to 5-km radius in forest: Prithviraj Chavan

September 03, 2009 07:04 IST
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A 5-km radius area in the Nallamala forests in Andhra Pradesh from where the missing helicopter carrying Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy made the last contact to air traffic control has been identified, Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan said in Hyderabad.

IAF's Sukhoi 30MK1 aircraft with synthetic aperture radar for high resolution ground mapping and a pilotless low-flying ISRO aircraft scoured the thick Nallamala forests in Kurnool district to locate the missing chopper with five persons, including two pilots, on board.

"By triangulation, we have located the area which is about 5-km radius circle and it has been identified based on the last contact with the air traffic control," Chavan, Union minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, told reporters.

"They (the people on board the chopper) were carrying about five cell phones and so whenever a cell phone passes through a tower it will register and with best help from BSNL, we will identify the area," Chavan, who along with Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily rushed to the city on Wednesday night, said.

"We are sparing no efforts whatsoever. We have deployed everything what we have got, air force, state police, air surveillance, satellite imagery and remote-sensing aircraft have been taking photos. Everything has been put into service," Chavan said.

"It is that area where the last contact with air traffic control was made and also contact with a BSNL mobile tower was made," he said.

Chavan said the photos were not visible clearly and he expects to get clear information later in the day.

"The state machinery is fully geared and briefed us completely and we are quite satisfied that all efforts are being made to locate Rajasekhara Reddy," Chavan said.

Asked what are the chances of the survival of persons on board the chopper, Chavan said, "Let's not speculate. Let's hope and pray that with the best equipment at our disposal, we will go to the point which is the identified area of about 5-km radius."

Moily said the state and central governments are taking best possible efforts to locate the chopper. "In fact we expect that somethingÂ… some positive signals will come back in the early hours."

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