The AN-32, which took off from Assam’s Jorhat on Monday at around 12.30 pm, was scheduled to land at the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s newly-formed district Shi Yomi at approximately 1.30 pm.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 aircraft, which went missing with 13 people on board over Arunachal Pradesh on Monday, was still not found a day later even as massive search operations were underway for the Soviet-designed aircraft, officials said Tuesday evening.
The AN-32, which took off from Assam’s Jorhat on Monday at around 12.30 pm, was scheduled to land at the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s newly-formed district Shi Yomi at approximately 1.30 pm. The aircraft’s last contact with ground staff was at 1 pm.
Shi Yomi borders China to the north and is one of the remotest locations in the Himalayan state.
An Indian Navy aircraft and ISRO satellites joined the search for the missing AN-32 on Tuesday, while the Army, the ITBP and the district police continued the hunt on the ground.
The official Twitter account of the IAF posted, “#SearchAndRescue Ops: #IAF continues extensive efforts to locate the missing #AN32. P-8 I of #IndianNavy, satellites like RISAT and aircraft equipped with multiple sensors have joined the concerted efforts to locate the missing aircraft. Continuous coordination is being carried out with Indian Army & various govt & civil agencies.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy tweeted, “Long Range Maritime Reconnaisance aircraft P8i takes off from INS Rajali, Arakonam, Tamil Nadu at 1300h and heads for joining the Search & Rescue operation launched by @IAF_MCC to locate the missing #AN32 between Jorhat & Mechuka. Aircraft to reach in area shortly. The aircraft shall carry out search with Electro Optical and Infra Red (EO & IR) sensors in thickly forested areas. The P8i aircraft has a very powerful Synthetic Aperture Radar which shall be utilised during the SAR sweeps to locate the missing.”
IAF public relations officer Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said the search and rescue operation resumed as the weather cleared on Tuesday morning, with two Mi17s and one ALH helicopter assisting the Army and ITBP jawans. Singh later told The Indian Express, “Search and rescue operation is still on. No wreckage found.”
He said that the Navy’s P8i finished the search and rescue operation and recce mission at 6.45 pm, while the IAF’s SU-30 carried out the search and rescue operation in the afternoon.
Singh added, “CARTOSAT AND RISAT satellites of ISRO are also taking images of the area. Post sunset, search by helicopters have ceased for the day. However, search by all sensors with night capability and the ground party will continue throughout the night. All possible assistance is being provided by Indian Army, Indian Navy, Police and State administration. The families of all air-warriors on board the aircraft have been informed and are being regularly updated on the progress of search for the missing aircraft.”
The Indian Express has learned from district administration officials and state police officials that search operations are intense in Arunachal’s Siang district. “It is not confirmed but it is quite possible that the plane crashed in our district and hence search operations are on in full swing,” a police officer in Siang said.
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