Indian Air Force fighter jets fly during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. (Photographer: T.Narayan/Bloomberg)

Indian Air Force Aircraft With 13 People On Board Goes Missing

An AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force with 13 people on board lost contact with ground agencies around 33 minutes after it took off from Jorhat in Assam on Monday, official sources said.

The aircraft got airborne at around 12:27 p.m. for Mechuka, a town in Arunachal Pradesh, which is close to China’s border. It lost all contacts with ground staff at around 1 p.m., they said.

A total of eight crew and five passengers were on board the aircraft, the IAF said in a statement. "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," the IAF added.

The IAF has deployed C-130J and AN-32 aircraft, and two Mi-17 choppers while the Indian Army has pressed into service advance light helicopters to locate the missing Russian-origin Antonov AN-32 aircraft. The search operations are planned to continue through the night, the IAF said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he has spoken with the vice chief about the missing aircraft and is praying for the safety of all those on board.

In June 2009, an AN-32 aircraft had crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, in which 13 defence personnel were killed. The aircraft had crashed over the Rinchi Hill above Heyo village, about 30 km from Mechuka advance landing ground.

In July 2016, an AN-32 aircraft went missing while taking off from Chennai for Port Blair with 29 people on board. The aircraft could not be traced following weeks of massive search operations covering 2,17,800 square nautical miles by multiple aircraft.

Months later, an IAF court of inquiry concluded that it was unlikely that the missing personnel on board the aircraft would have survived the accident.

Bloomberg Quint

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