Itanagar: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has launched a massive search operation by operating aircraft like Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and C130J after an AN-32 plane with 13 people on board went missing near Aalo in Arunachal Pradesh on Monday afternoon.
The plane, which got airborne from Jorhat in Assam at 12.25 pm on Monday, was bound for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi Yomi district. The aircraft last contacted ground agencies at 1 pm, when it was somewhere near Aalo, said defence sources. Thereafter, there has been no contact.
The aircraft was flying to a landing strip near the China border. It had eight crew members and five passengers on board.
As per sources in Mechuka, the AN-32 aircraft was last “heard” between Tato village and Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground.
Mechuka is a small town nestled 6,000 feet (1,829 m) above sea level in the Mechuka Valley in Shi Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh.
West Siang DC Swetika Sachan said that the missing plane was last seen near Tato Manigong in Shi Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh; anticipated crashed, she added.
West Siang district SP Jummar Pasar has rushed to locate the spot where the AN-32 aircraft was last seen. Apparently, there is no mobile network connectivity in the region.
Meanwhile, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria over the missing IAF aircraft. Taking to Twitter, he wrote:
Interestingly, another AN-32 aircraft belonging to the Indian Air Force with 13 people on board had gone missing in Arunachal Pradesh on June 9 in 2009. The aircraft was feared to have crashed in the mountains. The aircraft was on its way to Jorhat in Assam from the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Shi Yomi district, close to the China border.
This is not the first time an AN-32 aircraft has gone missing. The Russian-built AN-32, otherwise a reliable workhorse of the IAF, flies missions from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh and the Andamans. On July 22, 2016, an An-32 twin engine turboprop transport aircraft disappeared while flying over the Bay of Bengal. The aircraft was on its way from Tambaram Air Force station in Chennai on the western coastline of the Bay of Bengal to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There were 29 people on board.