Agencies, New Delhi
Eight days after it went missing after taking off from Jorhat Air Force Station in Assam, wreckage of missing Indian Air Force (IAF) transport aircraft AN-32 has been found in Lipo village in Payum circle of Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh, the IAF said on Tuesday.
‘’The wreckage of the missing #An32 was spotted today 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft by the #IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone.’’the IAF said in a tweet.
The Indian Air force said that efforts were on to establish the status of occupants and establish survivors.
‘’Efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants and establish survivors. Further details will be communicated as the recovery actions progress,’’the IAf said.
The aircraft had gone missing on June 3 after it took off from Jorhat Air Force Station in Assam at 12:27pm for Menchuka Advance Landing Ground. The aircraft ,carrying six officers, five airmen and two non-combatants (enrolled), was supposed to reach at 1.30pm.
The weather over the region was turbulent on the day and the aircraft’s last contact with ground agencies was at around 1.00pm.
The IAF launched an immediate effort to locate the missing aircraft on June 3 included deployment of C-130, AN-32, two Mi-17 helicopters and Indian Army ALH helicopters.
IAF was joined by the Indian Army, ITBP as well as state government and civil agencies in the search operation.
Indian Navy’s Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i carried out the search with Electro-Optical and Infra-Red (EO & IR) sensors in thickly forested areas between Jorhat and Mechuka, where the AN-32 went missing.
ISRO also deployed CARTOSAT and RISAT satellites to capture images of the area.
This was not the first time an AN-32 has gone missing.
In 2016, an aircraft with 29 people on board disappeared while flying from Chennai to Port Blair. The aircraft could not be traced and a Court of Inquiry had concluded that those on board are “presumed dead”.
In June 2009, IAF lost an AN-32 aircraft flying near Rinchi Hill, about 30 km from Mechuka ALG. All 13 defence personnel on board were killed.
An AN-32 crashed in February 2000 at the Vijaynagar ALG in Arunachal Pradesh, while another crash was reported near Palam airport in Delhi in March 1999, killing 21 personnel on board. In 1992, two AN-32 aircraft had collided mid-air during formation flying.