CBI to begin YSR chopper crash probe Friday


New Delhi : A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team will begin Friday its probe into the helicopter crash that killed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and four others last week, an official said Thursday.

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“A team led by Nageswara Rao, CBI Superintendent of Police in Vizag, will start its investigation (into the chopper crash) Friday,” CBI spokesperson Harsh Bhal told IANS.

Bhal said Rao will be assisted by at least two officers from Hyderabad and “as of now nobody from Delhi will be part of the team”.

He said the ongoing CID investigation into the crash will continue.

There is still no light on the circumstances that led to the chopper crash – more than a week after the accident – last Wednesday.

The police and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have so far failed to ascertain if the crash was due to human error or technical failure. The Bell 430 chopper crashed on a hillock in the dense Nallamalla forests, 40 nautical miles from Kurnool.

Besides the CID and CBI probes, the state government has also announced a parallel inquiry by a two-member expert committee.

Officials engaged in the probe are looking at all angles, including sabotage.

There are many questions that the CBI will have to find answers to – was the weather warning issued, was the chopper properly checked before it took off, was it carrying an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and whether there were any lapses on the part of pilots or Air Traffic Control staff in responding to the requests of the crew for help.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) recovered from the wreckage is yet to be decoded.

YSR, as the chief minister was popularly known, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots were killed Sep 2, an hour after the chopper took off from Hyderabad for Chittoor district. YSR was to launch a mass contact programme at Chittoor.

The helicopter crashed in bad weather minutes after it lost contact with Air Traffic Control at 9.12 a.m. The severely burnt bodies of the victims were found with the wreckage 24 hours later.

The ground search operation involved over 5,000 personnel of the army, paramilitary forces, police and even tribals living in the forest.