Thursday, September 3, 2009

Andhra CM YSR Reddy, 4 others killed in crash

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and four other persons were killed in the helicopter that crashed in the Nallamala Hills in bad weather on Wednesday losing radio contact an hour after take off from Hyderabad.

The bodies of 60-year-old Reddy - who led his Congress party to a spectacular second consecutive victory in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls - his Special Secretary P Subramanyam, Chief Secretary 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 Kurnool.
His Bell 430 chopper went down in bad weather.

Army commandos recovered the dead bodies of all the five people - including the Chief Minister - who were on board the twin-engine Bell chopper.

An Indian Air Force helicopter had on Thursday morning located the mangled remains of the helicopter.

The news of the tragedy filtered out after a meeting of the Congress core group at the Prime Minister's residence, but fears had been growing since Wednesday night when search operations to locate the missing chopper were unsuccessful.

The helicopter took off at 0835 hrs IST from the old Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

The Chief Minister was on his way to Chittoor, 588 km from Hyderabad, for a function when his helicopter went missing in inclement weather around 0930 hrs IST on Wednesday in the dense Nallamalla forests.

Reactions from political leaders started pouring in soon after the tragic news was announced.

"We are in total shock, it's a tremendous loss for the Congress party, for the entire state of Andhra Pradesh. We are yet to come to terms with this news. Sonia Gandhi is in constant touch with the family and is monitoring the situation closely. The senior leaders who have been deputed in this matter will brief the press shortly. He was an utterly practical human being, he was always moving on to achieve his goal, he was the man on the move, it's very sad that life has got him to such a tragic end. He was a dynamic Chief Minister. It is a tremendous loss to Andhra Pradesh and the Congress party. It's a terrible time because he could have achieved so much as the head of the state," said Congress Spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan.

State Congress Chief, D Srinivas said, "I don't think I will see another leader like him in this lifetime."

TDP leader Yerran Naidu said, "Today is a sad day. YSR Reddy was a great leader, I knew him for 30 years. We were really hoping that he would be found safe. We are very shocked."

"I had hoping till the last minute that some miracle will happen. If the party is feeling this way I can't imagine what the family is going through. He was the kind of leader who could turn probability into possibility," said Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary.


Andhra Pradesh plunged into gloom Thursday as it became known that Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had died in a helicopter crash in the dense Nallamalla forests.
People cried inconsolably in the state secretariat, the chief minister's camp office and Gandhi Bhavan, the headquarters of the ruling Congress party.

"He is my God. I can't believe he is no more," wailed a Congress party worker.
"He gave life to several people through Rajiv Arogyasri (health insurance scheme for poor). Nobody had imagined he will lose his life this way," said another Congress worker.

The Congress flag will fly at half mast.

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