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Chopper found, bodies charred

Raipur, July 18: Four persons on board the ill-fated Eurocopter-135 of the Chhattisgarh government were killed, as the wreckage of the missing chopper was located after five days on a hilly terrain of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh this morning.

The bodies of the four persons — both the pilots Capt. A.S. Sidhu, Capt. Vikram Savekar and engineer Amitabh Soni besides technician Manish Badania — were charred beyond recognition as the chopper crashed into a 50ft hill and turned into a fireball, a senior police officer said.

“We have traced the wreckage and the bodies. It is badly burnt. The bodies are also burnt and beyond recognition,” Sq. Leader (Rtd) Dibya Shankar Mishra, a member of the search team, told PTI. Only a portion of the rortar is seen and the rest of the copter is totally burnt, he added.

The chopper, Maina, went missing around 12.55pm on Saturday after the pilots lost contact with the air traffic control, hardly an hour after taking off from Bhopal. For the past five days, choppers of Indian Air Force, Madhya Pradesh government and police teams tried to spot the missing chopper.

Two villagers of Lamra — located on the Chhattisgarh border — spotted the debris while they crossed into Madhya Pradesh with cattle last evening.

They informed the Bakarkatta police post from where the message was communicated to Rajnandgaon. But being one of the Maoist-hit pockets, the search teams moved only this morning and reached the spot around 10am.

The accident spot, a police officer said, is 50km from Lanji police station of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh and 2km from Chhattisgarh border — about 250km from Bhopal. Senior police officers said that the preliminary probe suggested no evidence of any sabotage.

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