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Published On: Tue, Jun 11th, 2019

Missing AN-32 Aircraft Found in Arunachal Pradesh After Eight-Day Search

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Wreckage-of-Missing-Indian-Air-Force-Antonov-An-32-Aircraft-spotted-after-8-days-of-searchNEW DELHI/ JORHAT: The wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft that went missing on June 3 has been spotted 16 kilometres north of Lipo in Arunachal Pradesh by Mi-17 helicopters, the Indian Air Force said on Tuesday. It was spotted by a Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force, at a height of around 12,000 feet.
The plane was traveling from Jorhat in Assam to a remote military landing strip in Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh when it vanished from the radar around 1 pm on June 3. The first image of the crash site, taken directly from above and shared by sources, shows debris from the aircraft and charred trees, indicating a big fire when the plane would have gone down.
Deputy Commissioner of Siang district Rajeev Takuk said the wreckage was spotted near Pari hills, close to Gatte village under Payum circle in Arunachal Pradesh. “The wreckage was spotted near Pari hills, a few kilometres from Gatte village. However, the area is inaccessible as there is no road communication,” he said.

An AN-32 aircraft had crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh in June 2009 in which 13 defence personnel were killed. The aircraft had crashed over the Rinchi Hill above Heyo village, about 30 km from Mechuka advance landing ground.

Taking to Twitter, the IAF said: “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 force added that “efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants & establish survivors”.
With eight crew members and five armed forces personnel on board, the IAF aircraft lost contact with the ground control before it went off radar on June 3. The Russian-made plane, which was on its way to Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Shi-Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh from Jorhat in Assam, went missing 33 minutes after it took off at 12.27 am.
An IAF official said after identifying the wreckage of the AN 32, a Cheetah helicopter and an ALH chopper reached the crash site but could not land due to high elevation and dense forest.
Later in the day, the IAF said the search will resume on Wednesday morning. Another official said the IAF will send its special commandos ‘Garud’ to the crash site and carry out an exercise to look for possible survivors.
The IAF had on Saturday announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone providing information about the location of the AN-32 transport aircraft after rough weather hampered search operations.

On Saturday, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa reviewed the overall search operation at a high-level meeting in Assam’s Jorhat airbase. He also interacted with the families of the officers and airmen who were on board the aircraft.
The assets deployed for the operation included Sukhoi-30 aircraft in addition to a fleet of C-130J and AN-32 planes and Mi-17 and ALH helicopters. The ground forces included troops from the Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the State police. The IAF had been regularly updating the families of all air warriors on board the aircraft about the rescue operation.
The Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft was deployed earlier this week as it has electro-optical and infra-red sensors, which could be helpful in the search operation. IAF officials said ISRO’s Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area around Menchuka to help the rescuers find the plane.
The search was difficult because of the tough terrain and bad weather. The spot where the plane had been flying is mountainous and heavily forested; landing and take-off at Mechuka are extremely difficult. Coupled with erratic weather, the region is among the world’s most inhospitable for air transport.
The plane’s Search and Rescue Beacon had not been in production for 14 years, and no signal had been detected. This distress signal was meant to have been picked up by a satellite belonging to Cospas-Sarsat, an international satellite-aided search and rescue facility.
The An-32 is a Soviet-designed twin engine turboprop transport aircraft used extensively by the Indian Air Force for over four decades. Since it joined the IAF fleet, the rugged planes used to ferry people and air-drop supplies have undergone several rounds of upgrades. (With Agency Inputs ).

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