Itanagar, Jun 8 : The missing Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 aircraft with eight crew members and five other passengers on board could not be traced despite extensive search and rescue operations entered the sixth day on Saturday.
“Search and rescue operations by helicopters called off for today. Will resume tomorrow morning. Nothing has been sighted so far,” Guwahati-based Defence PRO, Lt Col P Khongsai said in a statement on Saturday.
He, however, said that surveillance by sensors will continue during the night to trace the missing aircraft.Col Khongsai said that Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Saturday visited Air Force Station Jorhat (Assam) to assess the ongoing search operations.
Chief of the Air Staff was given a detailed briefing about the operations and was apprised with the inputs received so far, the Defence PRO said, adding, he interacted with families of the officers and airmen who were on board the aircraft.
A source in the Defence said, search and rescue operations by helicopters to locate the missing aircraft is being carried out in the four districts including Lower Siang and West Siang of Arunachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile the IAF in a series of tweets said, “The search for the missing IAF AN-32 (aircraft) continued unabated today. IAF launched a massive search operation to trace whereabouts of the AN-32. Resources from various agencies, including ISRO were brought into the operation to enhance its effectiveness.”
“The area of search is mountainous and heavily forested with thick undergrowth. Weather has been inclement with low clouds and rain during most hours. Combined with the inhospitable terrain, it has posed serious challenges to aerial search operations,” it said.
The IAF said that search by ground teams of Indian Army, ITBP, State Police and members of local population has continued in full force today. However, aerial search could not be undertaken due to poor weather conditions prevailing throughout the day.
To trace the missing aircraft, the IAF said it has increased the deployment of its aircraft and expanded the search area significantly.
“More and more area is being covered by airborne sensors and satellites and the imaging is being followed-up by close analysis of data for its synergistic amalgamation in search operations,” it said.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday called upon all the district administrations of Siang, West Siang, Lower Siang and Shi-Yomi to intensify search operation to locate the missing aircraft.
It may be mentioned that the DCs of these districts are in close coordination with the IAF and helping them out with all possible means to find the missing aircraft. The Siang district administration has announced a cash award of Rs 50,000 for any finder or informant who can provide any information or clue of the AN-32 aircraft.
The aircraft went missing after it took off from Jorhat airbase on Monday afternoon for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh. (UNI)