A RUSSIAN-ORIGIN AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force with 13 people on board went missing on Monday afternoon around 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Arunachal’s Menchuka near the border with China, officials said. The IAF said the aircraft took off from Jorhat 12.27 pm for the Menchuka advance landing ground in Shi-Yomi district in Arunachal Pradesh, and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm.
“Some ground reports were received on possible location of a crash site. Helicopters were routed to the location, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far,” the IAF said in a statement. It said a total of eight aircrew and five passengers were onboard the aircraft and that the IAF is coordinating with Indian Army as well as various Government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. The IAF has deployed C-130J and AN-32 aircraft besides two Mi-17 choppers while the Indian Army has pressed into service advance light helicopters to locate the missing Antonov AN-32 aircraft.
“The search operations from air and by ground parties of Indian Army are planned to continue through the night,” the IAF said. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to the vice chief of the force on steps to find the missing aircraft and was praying for the safety of all those on board.
“Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours. “He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board,” the minister tweeted. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa is in Sweden on a four-day visit which began Monday.