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Thu 3 Sep 2009 10:07 AM

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Indian politician dies in chopper crash

Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy's body found after a 24-hour search in a dense swathe of forest.

Indian politician dies in chopper crash
TRAGIC CRASH: Reddy (left) was on a tour of a rural district when his Bell-430 helicopter went missing on Wednesday over a dense jungle. (Getty Images)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy was killed after his helicopter crashed in a dense swathe of forest known to be a stronghold of Maoist rebels, Indian television channels reported.Rescuers on Thursday found the helicopter after it went missing for almost 24 hours, officials said.

"I am extremely shocked…," Andhra Pradesh Governor Narayan Dutt Tiwari told the Times Now news channel.

"It is a very sad day," he said.

Reddy was on a tour of a rural district when his Bell-430 helicopter went missing on Wednesday over a dense jungle, Reuters reported.

According to AFP, a land-and-air search was launched on Wednesday to find  Reddy who went missing in the region held by Maoist rebels after taking off from the state capital Hyderabad.

Reddy, who was a senior figure in India's ruling Congress party, had been leading a vigorous military campaign to smash strongholds of the outlawed rebels who dominate wide swathes of coastal Andhra Pradesh, it added. The civilian US-made Bell helicopter was carrying four people, including the chief minister and his principal secretary, when it went missing, officials said.

The helicopter flew around a patch of bad weather and lost communication soon afterwards, state officials said.

Reddy was a major powerbroker in Indian politics and has been energetically pursuing tie-ups with international investors to turn his state into India's second-largest software hub after Bangalore in neighbouring Karnataka state, according to AFP.

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