ITANAGAR, Jun 12: The status of the 13 survivors onboard the ill-fated An-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is yet to be ascertained even after a rescue team was dropped close to the wreckage site on Wednesday.
After having located the wreckage on 11 June, a team of 15 mountaineers was airlifted to a location close to the crash site the very next day.
The crash site is reportedly at the eastern part of Pari mountain ridge, about 12-15 Kms from Gate village in Siang district at an elevation of approximately 12,000 ft.
The mountaineering team includes nine from the IAF, four from the Army and two civilians.
“They have been inducted by the IAF’s Mi-17s and ALH, with all equipment. Some have reached the crash site and some are still tracking,” Defence PRO Col C Konwor informed.
Additionally, West Siang DIPRO Gijum Tali informed that the rescue team will camp at the dropped site for the night and initiate necessary ground work.
“The crash site is highly inaccessible and on a steep mountain cliff. It will take time to retrieve the survivors, if any, and operation will depend on the weather condition as the area is enveloped by clouds for most part of the year,” he added.
Reportedly, a few groups of ground search team deputed by the Siang administration are yet to arrive back.
The team from Payum has come down on foot due to road blockade.
The DC, SP and HODs of Siang district are also camping at Kaying to take stock of the situation.
The West Siang DIPRO also informed that the Indian Army has put in all-out efforts in the agonizing search and rescue operation under the command of Col Mandeep Singh of the 11th Bihar Regiment based at Kaying, under the guidance of Brigadier C Dayalan.
The Siang and Shi-Yomi administration also did their best to carry out massive ground operation, he informed.
Meanwhile, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal RD Mathur complimented the search team for their relentless effort spanning eight days.
The wreckage was found on the ninth day.
He also thanked the Arunachal Pradesh administration under the supervision of Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Chief Secretary Satya Gopal for extended unflinching support to the IAF towards locating the missing An-32.
“The proud and highly patriotic people of the state have worked tirelessly to help the IAF for a national cause,” he added.
The Russian-origin transport aircraft of the IAF with 13 people on board went missing around 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Arunachal’s Mechuka in Shi Yomi district on 3 May.
After the aircraft went missing, the IAF commenced extensive search and rescue operation, engaging C-130J, AN-32, Mi-17 and an advanced light helicopter. The aircrafts are equipped with advanced sensors.
The CARTOSAT and RISAT satellites of the ISRO were also engaged in taking images of the area.