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YSR's chopper traced, in 'very bad condition'

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi/Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad/Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru
Last updated on: September 03, 2009 10:11 IST
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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's helicopter has been traced, an Air Force official stated on Thursday morning.

"We have located the helicopter. It is on top of a hill. It is located at a distance of 40 nautical miles east of Kurnool," Air Commodore Sagar Bharti told reporters in Nellore.

A top-level security source in New Delhi told that one of the IAF choppers, which had located the missing helicopter, had informed the authorities, "The chopper is in a very bad condition. Only the wreckage can be seen. There is no human movement around the chopper".

The wreckage has been located between Rollapenta and Rudra Koderu in Kurnool district.

The Union Home Ministry has ordered paratroopers to immediately airdrop themselves at the location where the missing chopper has been located. The paratroopers have been told to report back immediately on the situation on ground.

Bharti added that the IAF had already sent two helicopters to the area, which were looking for a place to land. "But it is on top of a hill, in a jungle, so it is difficult," he said.

When queried if the CM's chopper had crashed, he refused to comment, saying the IAF didn't have enough information yet. "We are trying to find out if there are any survivors," Bharti said.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday morning and informed her about YSR's chopper being traced.

The chopper was found nearly 24 hours after Reddy went missing.

Reddy, who was traveling with his Principal Secretary P Subramanyam and Chief Security Officer A S C John Wesley and two pilots in the twin-engined government helicopter, had taken off from old Begumpet Airport at 8.35 am on Wednesday to Chittor district.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting of the Union Cabinet in New Delhi to decide on the next steps in the rescue operation.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is expected to arrive in Hyderabad shortly to be with Reddy's anguished family members and to get a hand-on assessment of the search operation. She has already sent Union Law Minister and Congress general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh affairs Veerappa Moily and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chauhan to the city to monitor developments.

The state government has refused to make any comment on the latest developments in view of the fact that there are conflicting reports with regard to the copter's whereabouts.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi/Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad/Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru