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Aerial search for missing AN-32 stalled for second day Sunday

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: June 9, 2019  | 22:03 IST

New Delhi/Itanagar, Jun 9 (PTI) Aerial search operation to trace a missing transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force could not be undertaken for the second consecutive day on Sunday due to bad weather in remote Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh. However, ground troops continued their search for the missing aircraft in the mountainous area for the seventh consecutive day. "No search and rescue operation could take place on Sunday due to bad weather and low clouds," a Shillong-based spokesperson of the Indian Air Force said. He said a fleet of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicle and C-130J aircraft had taken to the skies but they landed back due to rain and poor weather. The aerial search operation could not take place on Saturday as well. The Russian-origin AN-32 aircraft with 13 people on board lost contact on Monday afternoon after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Menchuka advanced landing ground near the border with China. The IAF had launched a massive search operation in and around Menchuka hours after the aircraft went missing. "The ground teams have made considerable headway into the search area, which has been progressively expanded based on inputs from multiple sources. Search on ground will continue through the night," an IAF official said in Delhi. The IAF on Saturday announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone providing information about location of the AN-32 transport aircraft. On Saturday, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa reviewed the overall search operation at a high-level meeting in Assam's Jorhat air base. He also interacted with families of the officers and airmen who were on board the aircraft. The assets deployed for the operation included Sukhoi-30 aircraft in addition to a fleet of C-130J and AN-32 planes and Mi-17 and ALH helicopters. The ground forces included troops from the Army, Indo Tibetan Border Police and state police. The IAF has been regularly updating the families of all air warriors on board the aircraft about the rescue operation. The Indian Navy's P-8I aircraft was deployed earlier this week as it has electro-optical and infra-red sensors which could be helpful in the search operation. IAF officials said ISRO's Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area around Menchuka to help the rescuers find the plane. The AN-32 aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm for the Menchuka advance landing ground and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm. A total of eight aircrew and five passengers were on board the aircraft. The AN-32 is a Russian origin aircraft and the IAF currently operates a sizeable number of it. It is a twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft. PTI MPB UPL SMN SMN

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