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Aerial search resumes as efforts to trace missing IAF plane continue

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ITANAGAR (PTI): Aerial search operation resumed on Monday after a gap of two days as efforts to trace a missing transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force continued for eighth consecutive days in remote Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh, officials said.

The AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), with eight crew and five passengers on board, went missing on June 3.

Shillong-based IAF spokesman Ratnakar Singh said that despite rigorous search operations by IAF, Army, district administrations and locals on Monday, whereabouts of the ill-fated plane could not be ascertained.

"Helicopters and C-130J aircraft were carrying out aerial search operations during the day, while it will be continued during the night by UAV and C-130J aircraft to locate the missing aircraft," the spokesman said.

Search efforts by ground teams of Indian Army, ITBP, state police and locals continued in full force in the mountainous area, he said.

Aerial search resumed on Monday after a gap of two days.

On Sunday, a fleet of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicle and C-130J aircraft had taken to the skies but they landed back due to rain and poor weather.

The aerial search operation could not take place on Saturday as well.

On Monday, the IAF deployed more helicopters, transport aircraft and has expanded the search area significantly since the beginning of the operations.

More areas were being covered by airborne sensors and satellites, and the imaging is being followed-up by close analysis of data for its synergistic amalgamation with search operations.

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 Arunachal Pradesh from Jorhat in Assam, went missing 33 minutes after it took off at 12.27 am.

The IAF had on Saturday announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone providing information about location of the AN-32 transport aircraft.

On Saturday, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa reviewed the overall search operation at a high-level meeting in Assam's Jorhat airbase.

He also interacted with 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, Indo Tibetan Border Police and state police.

The IAF has 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.


IAF  Aircraft  Missing  AN-32  
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