IAF aircraft “missing” after taking off from Assam

Operations on to trace Arunachal-bound plane with 13 on board

GUWAHATI: An AN-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force reportedly went “missing” after it took off from Jorhat in Upper Assam on Monday afternoon.

Official sources told the media that the aircraft, with eight crew members and five passengers on board, took off from Jorhat airbase at 12.27pm for Mechuka advance landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh.

“The aircraft last contacted ground agencies at 1300 hours (1pm), thereafter there has been no contact. Since the aircraft did not reach the airfield (Mechuka ALG), overdue action was initiated by IAF. A total of eight crew and five passengers were onboard the aircraft. All available resources have been employed to locate the aircraft,” defence sources said.

IAF sources on Monday evening stated on Twitter that the air force “is coordinating with Indian Army, various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. Search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of Indian army through the night.”

The air force also said that some ground reports were received on possible location of a crash site. Helicopters were routed to the location. However, no wreckage has been sighted so far. “C-130J, AN-32 aircraft and two Mi-17 and Indian Army ALH helicopters were deployed to locate the missing aircraft,” it stated.

The air strip at Mechuka is located close to the India-China border. It is used f to bring in vital supplies from cities in Assam via aircraft and helicopters.

Expressing concern at the incident, defence minister Rajnath Singh, in a tweet, said, “Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours. He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board.”

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