Helicopter hired by C'garh govt goes missing

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Jagdalpur, Aug 4 (UNI) A private helicopter, hired by the Chhattisgarh government, went missing with three people on board on its way from Hyderabad to Raipur, police said.

Two pilots and an engineer were aboard the Raina Airlines helicopter, Bastar range Inspector General of Police A N Upadhyaya said.

The aircraft, which left Hyderabad around 1500 hours yesterday was scheduled to reach here around 1630 hours for refuelling on its onward trip to Raipur.

A frantic search started last evening as the aircraft did not arrive here on schedule and the search still continued, Mr Upadhyaya said, adding there was heavy rain on the border areas of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh yesterday.

While an official source said the helicopter was hired by the Chhattisgarh government to facilitate Chief Minister Raman Singh and Home Minister Ramvichar Netam, another source said the aircraft was used for transporting foodgrains to security personnel deployed for anti-naxal operations in interior areas of south Bastar.

In July last year also, a helicopter of Chhattisgarh government crashed in bad weather killing four people in Madhya Pradesh's Balaghat district. The helicopter went missing on way to Raipur after a periodical checkup at Bhopal. A pet dog of a villager from Chhattisgarh's Rajnandgaon district had helped trace the charred bodies and damaged aircraft on a hillock amid thick forest.

UNI XC-SP GL HT1244

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