IAF aircraft with 13 on board goes missing

NEW DELHI, Jun 3: A Russian-origin AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with 13 people on board went missing on Monday afternoon around 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Arunachal’s Mechuka in Shi Yomi district, officials said.
The IAF said the aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm for the advanced landing ground (ALG) in Mechuka, and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm.
“Some ground reports were received on possible location of a crash site. Helicopters were routed to the location. However, no wreckage have been sighted so far,” the IAF said in a statement.
It said a total of eight aircrew and five passengers were onboard the aircraft, and that the IAF is coordinating with the Indian Army as well as various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft.
The IAF has deployed C-130J and AN-32 aircraft besides two Mi-17 choppers, while the Indian Army has pressed into service advanced light helicopters to locate the missing Antonov AN-32 aircraft.
“The search operations from air and by ground parties of the Indian Army are planned to continue through the night,” the IAF said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to the vice chief of the force on steps to find the missing aircraft and was praying for the safety of all those on board.
“Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours.
“He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board,” the minister tweeted.
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, is in Sweden on a four-day visit which began on Monday.
Official sources said the IAF has deployed all available resources to locate the aircraft.
The AN-32 is a Russian origin aircraft, and the IAF currently operates a sizeable number of it. It is a twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft.
An AN-32 aircraft had crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal in June 2009, in which 13 defence personnel were killed. (PTI)