Mountaineers yet to reach AN-32 crash site

Mountaineers who were air dropped by IAF helicopters in West Siang district on Wednesday. Photo credit: IAF

As many as 15 mountaineers were airdropped on Wednesday near Payum in West Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh, where the wreckage of AN-32 was spotted on Tuesday.

IAF spokesperson at Shillong, Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told DH that the mountaineers could not reach the exact crash site due to inclement weather and tough terrain and so would camp there for the night.

"The team will try to close in to the crash site tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.

Mi-17 helicopter and an ALH chopper had taken the mountaineers including nine from IAF, four from army and two civilians.

"Arunachal Pradesh government agencies and local people are helping us immensely in the operation," Singh said.

An MI-17 helicopter had spotted the wreckage of the transport aircraft on Tuesday afternoon, eight days after it went missing.

The aircraft took off at 12.27 pm on June 3 from Jorhat air force station in eastern Assam with eight crewmen and five other IAF personnel for Mechuka, close to China border in Arunachal Pradesh. But it lost control around 1 pm over West Siang district.

"The aircraft that lost control at Payum after takeoff from Jorhat appears to have turned left towards Mechuka from Gasheng village and lost its control near Gatte. The area has tough topography and terrain and retrieving the remains may take some time," said a statement issued by West Siang district administration. 

Family members of those who on board the aircraft are awaiting in the Jorhat air force station.

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