Missing AN-32: late arrival of NIOT vessel delays underwater search

Missing AN-32: late arrival of NIOT vessel delays underwater search

Missing AN-32: late arrival of NIOT vessel delays underwater search

As the fruitless search for the IAF aircraft AN-32 continued on Day 7, defence authorities deferred the underwater search due to the delay in the arrival of NIOT’s vessel, Sagar Nidhi.

Failure to locate oil sleek or any obvious signs of the missing aircraft after extensive scouring of 300 nautical mile off the Chennai coast has made rescuers anxious.

“(NIOT’s vessel) was supposed to reach Chennai coast on Thursday. It is delayed due to bad weather and will arrive soon to start deep-sea search,” a senior Coast Guard official seeking anonymity said.

He said Sagar Nidhi is a vessel with fully automatic diesel-electric propulsion equipped with high-tech searching devices including a winch to lift 60 tonnes from the depth of 6000 metres in the sea.

The official said despite the weather remaining good, the sea has become rough since Wednesday evening.

“We will have difficulties in intensifying the search,” he said, adding the search would not be stopped.

Coast Guard sources said they have requested deployment of INS Nirupak, since Sagar Nidhi is taking time to arrive.

Adding to the search team’s troubles, Chennai’s Regional Meteorological Department has predicted strong off-shore winds in the south-westerly direction gusting occasionally up to 45-55 kmph along Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts in the next 24 hours. There were also forecasts of heavy rain.

Defence authorities, meanwhile, are studying two dark orange objects found in the sea on Tuesday evening. Similar objects have been recovered on Wednesday night.
“We are examining to see if they were from the missing AN-32,” the official said.
The IAF aircraft with 29 defence personnel on board left Chennai for Port Blair last week and has since been missing.

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