TIMES OF INDIA & VOA NEWS
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy dies in chopper crash.
“We are in deep mourning,” the home minister said, describing YSR, who led the Congress to a spectacular election victory in May this year, as “a tall leader”. (Watch Video )
“… We send our condolences to the families of YSR and the other four (who died in the helicopter crash).” (Watch Video )
The bodies of 60-year-old Reddy, his special secretary P Subramanyam, chief security officer A S C Wesley, pilot Group Captain S K Bhatia and co-pilot M S Reddy were found on Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles east of here, besides the mangled remains of the helicopter. ( Watch Video )
YSR’s mortal remains are being flown to Kurnool General Hospital. After a postmortem there, they will be brought to Hyderabad, state government sources said.
Big crowds have gathered outside the state secretariat and YSR’s residence. As Thursday is also the day for the immersion of Ganesh idols at the end of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and there is a huge traffic dislocation in the city, cops are finding it difficult to manage the situation.
The central leadership of the Congress is understood to have cleared the name of Andhra Pradesh finance minister K Rosaiah as the caretaker CM of the state.
The Union Cabinet is meeting to discuss the matter.
The helicopter carrying YSR Reddy, two of his staff and two pilots went missing in pouring rain Wednesday morning over the Naxal and tiger-infested Nalamalla forests.
Nearly 24 hours after YSR’s chopper went missing, it was located atop Serai Salem hill, at a distance 40 nautical miles (70 kms) east of Kurnool.
The CM left Hyderabad on a six-seater Bell chopper at 8.35am for Chittoor accompanied by his secretary and chief security officer. After 9.27am, radio contact was lost with the helicopter.
Soon after the chopper lost contact, multiple agencies of the state launched a massive hunt for possible wreckage in the desolate terrain.
By evening, it expanded into the country’s biggest-ever search operation with satellites in the sky joining remote sensing aircraft, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, troops on the ground and even barefoot deer-hunting tribals with bows and arrows.
A Strong Supporter of India-US Friendship
US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer on Thursday condoled the death of Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash, describing him as “a strong supporter of India-US friendship”.
“The chief minister was a strong supporter of the US-India friendship and our bilateral partnership, visible in the strong economic and family ties between the people of Andhra Pradesh and the United States,” Roemer said.
On behalf of the US government, Roemer offered his condolences to Reddy’s family as well as to the families of two senior officers who died along with the chief minister in the crash. Two pilots also died in the crash.
The 60-year-old chief minister, popularly known as YSR, was going from Hyderabad to Chittoor, 588 km away, for a mass contact programme when his helicopter went missing in bad weather around 9.30 am on Wednesday in a dense forest range. His body was found Thursday.
YSR will be cremated in Pulivendula, his native town in Kadapa district, where he will be cremated with state honours.
A Strong Christian
Reddy – a devout Christian in a Hindu-majority country – turned from medicine to politics in his home state and became one of the most influential leaders in the Congress Party. In his state, he was noted for traveling to the most remote regions of Andhra Pradesh to understand the living conditions of his poorest constituents.