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Indian Helicopter With State Minister Missing at Sino-Indian Border

A helicopter carrying a state government minister and six others lost contact with ground stations Tuesday after taking off in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Indian officials said.

They said the private helicopter went off radar around 11:30 am (0600 GMT) while it was flying along the China-India borders of the mountainous state.

"Fifteen minutes after taking off, the helicopter lost contact with ground radars and we have no news whatsoever after that," Deputy Police Inspector General Kishen Kumar said by telephone from the state capital of Itanagar.

Besides the two pilots, the passengers included Arunachal Pradesh Education Minister Dera Natung, three representatives of The Times of India newspaper and an unnamed government official.

It was not immediately known whether the three were journalists of the New Delhi-based daily.

"We have sounded a maximum alert and have sent search teams to locate the helicopter," police official Kumar said.

"The terrain is hilly and the weather was cloudy with lots of rains when the chopper went off the screen."

In March, six Indian Air Force personnel were killed when a Russian-built MI-8 helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh state.

(China Daily 05/09/2001)

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