ITANAGAR, Jun 9: Although the weather conditions improved slightly on Sunday, low clouds and light rainfall caused difficulties in the aerial search operations to locate the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) missing An-32 aircraft in Arunachal.
According to defence sources, the IAF is continuing its search for the aircraft. However, the poor weather in the area has been adversely hampering the search by aerial platforms.
“Helicopters and transport aircraft could carry out very limited operations due to low clouds and rain in the area,” the IAF said.
Reportedly, the ground teams are also continuing the search in full force and have made considerable headway in the search area, which has been progressively expanded, based on inputs from multiple sources.
“Search on ground will continue through the night,” the sources said.
Siang Deputy Commissioner Rajeev Takuk informed this daily that the search operations were considerably better on Sunday as, although the weather was cloudy, it was unlike on Saturday, when it had rained heavily. However, there has been no trace of the missing aircraft.
“The search grid has been expanded over a large area, including Pari hills and Pahudino hills. The five mountaineers deployed in the search have reached Payum, and will begin their march on Monday for Pari hills first,” Takuk informed.
Notably, the five hunters who were deployed from Payum on 5 June to look for the aircraft were expected back on Saturday but are yet to return.
The DC said he is going to make announcements in villages under his jurisdiction regarding the IAF’s reward of Rs 5 lakhs to any person or group that provides credible information leading to finding the aircraft.
West Siang DIPRO Gijum Tali also reported: “The 35 minutes that elapsed between take-off and losing contact with the ATC gives the impression that the fast flying aircraft might have reached or crossed Tato circle, towards Monigong in Shi Yomi district.”
“The ground team has serious limitations and their services can only be utilized after locating the site,” the DIPRO said, adding: “The teams are also trying to make the most of the partly sunny weather to intensify the search operation zone-wise on both banks of the Siyom river and pressing small helicopters (into service) zone-wise.”
The plane was on its way to Mechuka in Shi Yomi district, bordering Tibet, from the Jorhat airbase in Assam when it lost touch with the ATC some 40 minutes into the flight.