A powerful politician considered an influential player in the ruling Congress Party was found dead on Thursday after his helicopter disappeared in bad weather in southern India.
The wreckage of the helicopter carrying Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, 60, the chief minister of the state of Andhra Pradesh, was discovered after a search following its disappearance Wednesday morning on a flight from the state capital, Hyderabad, to the city of Chittor. Four other people also died, reports New York Times.
Union minister of state for Defence Pallam Raju, who was among the first to come and pay his condolences, said the nation has lost "a powerful leader".
"The sudden passing away of our chief minister under tragic circumstances is a big shock to the people of Andhra Pradesh and the nation. Reddy was the leader of the masses and whose heart beat for the common man, the under-privileged and the farming community.
In his death country has lost a great and powerful leader. May god bless his departed soul and give strength to his family," Raju wrote in his condolence message, Times of India informs.
On Thursday, rescue teams crossing dense jungle and hilly terrain on foot reached the crash site on a hill five miles (eight kilometers) from the nearest village and about 170 miles (275 kilometers) south of the state capital, Hyderabad.
The privately owned helicopter took off from Hyderabad and lost contact with air traffic controllers about 45 minutes into the flight.
Commandos who reached the crash site after a daylong search in incessant rain found the five charred bodies and the mangled remains of the helicopter, Chidambaram said.
Investigators have begun the helicopter wreckage to determine the cause of the crash.
"It is not possible to say why it crashed," he told reporters in New Delhi.
The bodies were being flown to Hyderabad and a state funeral was planned for Friday, Chidambaram said, The Associated Press reports.