Five days on, no trace of missing AN-32 of IAF

Itanagar: There was no breakthrough in the search of the AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force that went missing with 13 persons on board with operations continuing for the fifth day on Friday amid inclement weather, officials said.

IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said despite inclement weather, the joint search operations by IAF, Army and local administrations were continued.

“Search operations by helicopters, P-8I of the Indian Navy, besides C130J and ground parties of the Indian Army and locals were conducted but there was no sight of the aircraft,” Singh said.

He added that the search operations by helicopters were called off due to low lights and would resume Saturday morning.

Ground teams of Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police along with locals and district administration officials are searching areas around Siang district, official sources said.

A senior IAF official said, P-8I of the Navy undertook a search mission from Arakonnam base on Friday morning.

“The helicopters, transport aircraft, UAVs and other sensors are involved in extensive search and rescue whenever weather is permitting. The search area continues to expand to look at all possibilities. All electronic, radar, optical and infrared sensors including satellites are being employed to scan the area for any probable clues,” he said.

The IAF said, Army, police, state government, paramilitary forces and local people are lending crucial support in the search operation.

“Army search parties have been in the area for over two days, going through thick forest trying to locate the aircraft. Senior Air Staff Officer of Eastern Air Command is coordinating and supervising search operations at Along.

“IAF is not sparing any effort in locating the missing air warriors. We stand in support of the families in these difficult times,” the officer said.

The search operation encompasses an area of about 2,500 square km which falls under Kaying and Payum circle of Siang district.

“The IAF is in regular touch with the families of missing air warriors. All possible assistance is being provided to the families. Some family members met Defence Minister on June 6 and they were briefed about the search efforts. AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R D Mathur had earlier met the families of missing air warriors at Jorhat,” the official said.

The Russian-origin transport aircraft took off from Assam’s Jorhat at 12.27 pm on Monday for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Shi-Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh. Its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm.

Eight crew members and five passengers were on board the aircraft.