IAF plane goes missing with 29 on board

IAF plane goes missing with 29 on board

17 warships, 9 aircraft on massive search operation

IAF plane goes missing with 29 on board
A Port Blair-bound Indian Air Force’s AN-32 transport aircraft with 29 people on board disappeared over the Bay of Bengal minutes after taking off from an air base in Chennai on Friday.

Till the time of going to the press, there was no information about the passengers and the crew of the ill-fated aircraft, while a massive search and rescue operation was still on.

“The plane is still missing. All efforts are being made to trace the service personnel on board,” said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Mysteriously, the aircraft did not send out the emergency “May Day” distress signal and vanished within 16 minutes after take-off, sources in the Ministry of Defence said.

The AN-32 took off at 8.30 am from Tambaram air base and was due to land at Port Blair at 11.30 am. Parrikar is likely to visit Tambaram base on Saturday, adds PTI.

The plane made its last contact with the Chennai Air Traffic Controller at 8.46 am when it was about 280 km east of the Tamil Nadu capital. The distance between Chennai and Port Blair is about 1,390 km.

The aircraft had six crew members–three officers, one air man and two technicians from IAF. The 23 other passengers include 11 from IAF, 9 from the navy, two from the army and one from the Indian Coast Guard. The 11 IAF personnel include one officer, four air men, five non-combatants and one security personnel from the Defence Service Corps.

The navy personnel include one sailor, seven civilians from Naval Armament Depot, and another civilian from Naval Armament Inspectorate, both in Visakhapatnam. The service headquarters withheld the name and ranks of the passengers till the formal procedures are over.

As many as 17 warships from the navy and coast guard joined the search operation. A submarine has been diverted from its mission to look for signals transmitted by the AN-32’s locator beacon from under the water. The beacon can remain alive for almost a month.

In addition, six aircraft–four from the navy, including two latest P8I, and two from the coast guard–have also been put on the search operation. The IAF’s C-130J and two AN-32 aircraft were also pressed into operation. The flying operations were called off at nightfall, but the ships will continue their search. Officials said it is too early to even discuss what could be the cause.