Ground team leaves for An-32 crash site

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Jun 18: After eight days of failed aerial attempts to retrieve the bodies of the 13 personnel who were on board the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) An-32 aircraft, a ground team has been formed and sent on foot for the crash site near Tato circle in Shi Yomi district.
The ground team includes Garud commandos of the IAF, members of the Special Forces of the Army, two local hunters, and six porters.
“The first element of this trekking party is likely to reach the site late on 19 June,” the defence PRO informed.
“Helicopters, including Mi-17, Cheetah and ALH, have been unable to approach the site for the last three days because of inclement weather in the valleys and cloud cover over the crash site,” he said, adding: “Retrieval operations require the steep mountain sides to be visible for the helicopters to safely hover close to the crash site and for the operating crew to be able to see the personnel on the ground.”
Informing that the IAF is actively coordinating with the state administration at all levels, the defence PRO assured that “no efforts are being spared by IAF personnel to ensure that the mortal remains of their brothers in arms are retrieved at the earliest.”
He said the Army and the Arunachal Pradesh state administration have “all along provided unflinching support.”
On 3 June, the IAF’s An-32 aircraft with 13 personnel on board crashed into the mountains between Shi Yomi and Siang districts.
The wreckage of the aircraft was located on 11 June near Tato circle, at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft, by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter.
Subsequently, a team of 15 mountaineers was dropped near the crash site the next day. Later, three more mountaineers joined the rescue team. The mortal remains of the air warriors, along with the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft, were also found at the crash site.