New Delhi, India -- The top elected official of a remote state in India's mountainous northeast was declared dead Thursday in a helicopter crash, six days after the copter carrying him dropped off the radar.
Indian home ministry spokesman Onkar Kedia confirmed the death of Dorjee Khandu, the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh state, and five others on board the helicopter.
The wreckage was sighted Wednesday after an aerial survey of the difficult terrain in the state's Tawang district, from where it had taken off on Saturday.
Earlier, authorities broadened their search for the missing helicopter into Bhutan. A district in the tiny neighboring kingdom was among three locations that satellites and jets zeroed in on looking for Khandu's helicopter.
Officials said the search operation involved at least 3,500 personnel.
The helicopter belonged to India's state-run Pawan Hans company. Authorities raised the alarm when it did not arrive at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday.
On April 20, at least 17 people were killed as a Pawan Hans helicopter caught fire upon landing in Tawang, officials said.