Andhra Pradesh CM Y.S.R. Reddy missing, damaged helicopter found

HYDERABAD, India Thu Sep 3, 2009 10:37am IST

Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (L) comforts the relative of a victim of an overcrowded boat that capsized in the Krishna river in Mehboobnagar district, about 180 km southwest from Hyderabad January 19, 2007. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (L) comforts the relative of a victim of an overcrowded boat that capsized in the Krishna river in Mehboobnagar district, about 180 km southwest from Hyderabad January 19, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer/Files

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HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - Rescuers on Thursday found the helicopter of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S.R. Reddy in tiger-infested jungle hills after it went missing for almost 24 hours but his fate was not known, officials said.

Reddy is an influential political leader who helped spur a Congress party-led coalition to victory in a general election in May.

Reddy was on a tour of a rural district when his Bell-430 helicopter went missing on Wednesday over a dense swathe of forest known to be a tiger habitat and a stronghold of Maoist rebels.

"We have located the helicopter, it is on top of a hill ... our helicopters are there. We are trying to find out if there are any survivors," Air Commodore Sagar Bharati said.

Home Ministry officials said the helicopter was damaged but they gave no details.

Some Indian news channels, quoting unidentified government sources, said the helicopter had been reduced to a mangled mass of metal and survivors were unlikely.

It was not known why the helicopter came down.

Officials launched a big search after the helicopter went missing, deploying hundreds of police, soldiers and tribesmen from the area. Air force fighters and a satellite were also used for thermal imaging of the area.

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