Another Odia aboard missing IAF aircraft

Jajpur: While it was reported yesterday that Charan Maharana (26) of Sukunda village on the outskirts of Berhampur city was among the 29 aboard the Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 transport aircraft that went missing on Friday over the Bay of Bengal off the Chennai coast, it has now come to light that there was another Odia on the ill-fated aircraft.

The person has been identified as Purnachandra Senapati, who hails from Rangranga village near Panikoili in Jajpur district. According to sources, a colleague confirmed that Purnachandra was on the aircraft which went missing.

Notably, the aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to the 33 Squadron, took off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai at 8.30 a.m., and was expected to land at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 11.30 a.m., officials said, describing it as a “routine sortie”.

According to a report submitted to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar by Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, the recorded transcript of the Chennai air traffic radar showed the last pickup was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai, when the aircraft was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.