The fate of 29 people went missing on board Indian Air Force transport aircraft is yet to be known after passage of 48 hours. Search teams are yet to find any trace of the AN-32 plane which went missing on Friday morning.
Airforce authorities have lodged a formal complaint with Tamil Nadu police over the missing AN-32 aircraft.
“We have received a complaint that Air Force’s AN-32 transport aircraft has gone missing,” said a senior police official.
The complaint was lodged last night with Selaiyur police,” added the officer.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who is stationed in Chennai since Saturday has been monitoring the situation. Parrikar undertook a two-hour aerial survey with as many as 18 navy and coast guard ships to find out the missing plane.
The An-32 plane went missing on Friday took off from Tambaram air base near Chennai for Port Blair. The plane made the last radio contact at 8:46 am, 16 minutes after take-off. As per official information the Air Craft had fuel to run only 3 hours.
Worries mounted for the Search and Rescue teams as no positive signals emerged from the operations launched on Friday.
The Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre at Chennai has been coordinating round the clock surveillance towards search effort along with Southern Air Command of IAF, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
The Defence Ministry in a statement said Parrikar was briefed about the challenges of undertaking SAR under monsoon conditions with heavy rain, cloud cover, rough sea condition and most importantly depths of over 3,500 metres in the area.
He was also briefed about future plans involving additional ships and a submarine that were heading for the area to join in the operation.
“The sea is very choppy with thick monsoon clouds in the area making the search effort quite challenging. Raksha Mantri has directed that the operations be continued unhindered till further orders,” the statement said.
As of now a massive search operation is in progress braving prevalent monsoon weather conditions and poor visibility wherein IAF, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have pooled in resources to look for any possible sign of the aircraft in the vast swath of Bay of Bengal between Chennai and Port Blair.
The 29 people on board the Air Force’s workhorse for a long period included six crew members, two of them pilots and one navigator. Besides, there were 11 personnel from the IAF including a lady officer, two from the Army, and one from the Coast Guard and 9 from the navy which included some from its armament depot.