All 13 on board including Odisha IAF pilot Sunit Mohanty dead in AN-32 crash

New Delhi: All 13 people on board the AN-32 aircraft which crashed in Arunachal Pradesh are dead, the IAF said after a team of rescuers searched the wreckage of the plane in a heavily forested mountainous terrain on Thursday. An IAF official said there were no survivors from the crash of the AN-32 aircraft.

Those who died in the crash are Wing Commander G M Charles, Squadron Leader H Vinod, Flight Lieutenants Sunit Mohanty, L R Thapa, MK Garg and Ashish Tanwar, Warrant officer K K Mishra, Sergeant Anoop Kumar, Corporal Sherin, LAC (leading aircraft man) S K Singh, LAC Pankaj, and non combatants Rajesh Kumar and Putali.

“IAF Pays tribute to the brave Air-warriors who lost their life during the #An32 crash on 03 Jun 2019 and stands by with the families of the victims. May their soul rest in peace,” an Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesperson said.

The Russian-origin AN-32 aircraft was going from Jorhat in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground near the border with China on June 3 when it lost contact around half-an-hour after taking off.

The wreckage of the plane was spotted by an IAF chopper on Tuesday at a height of 12,000 ft near Gatte village on the border of Siang and Shi-Yomi districts, after eight days of a massive search operation involving a fleet of aircraft and choppers as well as ground forces.

A 15-member team of rescuers were sent look for survivors in the accident Wednesday and eight of them reached the crash site on Thursday morning, an IAF official said.

After getting information about the death of Flight Lieutenant Sunit Mohanty, family members of the IAF personnel are heart broken.

“We have been waiting to hear anything about him. But after hearing this saddening news we are heart broken,” said a relative of Sunit.

“We are proud of Sunit for his contribution towards the country. May his soul rest in peace, ” said a resident of Baliapalli.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condoled the death of 13 IAF personnel and stated in a tweet, “Deeply saddened by the news of our air warriors who lost their lives in An32 crash including the brave Flight Lieutenant Sunit Mohanty from Odisha. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace.”

BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda also expressed grief over the deaths.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also took to the Twitter and prayed for the departed souls.

(With PTI Inputs)