India’s Chief Minister is killed in a helicopter crash

Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, India, is killed in a helicopter crash on September 2.

Bell 430

Bell 430 file photo

Reddy’s Bell 430 helicopter went missing on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 9:35 am.

Begumpet and Shamshabad Air Traffic controllers lost contact with the chopper at 9:02 am.

The chopper went missing in the dense Nallamala forest area, which is associated with the outlawed Naxal communist activity.

Although there had been little Naxalite activity of late, the area had been pummeled by continuous rains, making the search mission very challenging.

Several low altitude planes and the Indian Airforce’s Sukhoi-30MKI with thermal imaging system were deployed, with an IL 78 on standby for Air–Air refueling. In the largest ever search operation in India massive ground operations were deployed which included 5000 CRPF soldiers for a search-and-rescue mission.

The Indian Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the chopper’s crash on the morning of 3 September and the death of all aboard, including Reddy, his special secretary P Subrahmanyam, chief security officer ASC Wesley, Group Captain SK Bhatia and Captain MS Reddy. He will be buried on September 4 at Pulivendula in Kadapa district. Konjeti Rosaiah is the caretaker Chief Minister; a hunt is on in the Congress party for the next Chief Minister.

The army and police from six districts were involved in the ground search. Andhra Pradesh’s anti Naxal forces were also deployed in the area, owing to their familiarity with the jungle terrain there. Local tribal residents from this part of the state assisted with the search mission. Patrol parties also combed the Krishna river for the remains of the helicopter.

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