High-tech Coast Guard aircraft goes missing off TN coast

Search operations on for three senior crew members

High-tech Coast Guard aircraft goes missing off TN coast

A high-tech Dornier aircraft of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) with three experienced crew members went missing since the wee hours of Monday near Karaikal in Puducherry.

Search operations involving the Navy are ongoing as on Tuesday night, though the ICG refuses to speculate on the possible reasons for the aircraft’s disappearance.

The Dornier aircraft CG-791, deployed for surveillance along Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay from Coast Guard station in Chennai on Monday evening, did not return to base.

"The last contact with the aircraft was about 2100 hrs and Trichy radar tracked the flight till 2123 hrs in position 95 NM South of Chennai (off Karaikal)", ICG Inspector General S P Sharma said.

He said the aircraft was inducted to the Coast Guard in 2014 and was flown by highly experienced crew, declining to speculate on the reasons for its disappearance. Eight ships and two aircrafts of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard were deployed to search and rescue the Dornier aircraft, piloted by Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar with co-pilot and Deputy Commandant M K Soni and navigator/observer Subash Suresh. "We are confident of locating it as early as possible", Sharma said. Accordingly, the fishing community and marine police have been alerted to pass on any information on the missing plane, officials said. The incident comes months after a Dornier-228 of the Indian Navy with three crew members went down in the Arabian Sea off Goa coast. Officials also said that the Coast Guard is in touch with the family members and expressed confidence of locating the aircraft soon.

Assistant DGP-State Coastal Security Group C Sylendra Babu said two high-tech search boats with five crew members each have joined the Indian Navy for the search operations.

Meanwhile, the search team sent several boats to the Puducherry coastline, following assertions by a fisherman that he saw a huge ball of flame fall from the sky late Monday night.

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