CHANDIGARH: After 50 years of the Indian Air Force AN-12 aircraft mishap, skeletal remains have been found at Dhaka glacier in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti Valley.
During a cleanliness drive organised by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in the valley, their eleven-member climbers' team stumbled upon the remains at the Chandrabhaga-13 peak, besides a few parts of the ill-fated turboprop transport aircraft at the Dhaka glacier base camp.
The plane with 98 passengers and four crew members (102 in total) had disappeared on February 7, 1968, while flying from Chandigarh to Leh.
It is said that the pilot decided to turn back due to an inclement weather while approaching Leh, after which the aircraft lost the radio contact over Rohtang Pass. It was declared missing after the wreckage could not be found.
The climbers alerted the Indian Army’s High Altitude Warfare School on July 16 about the mortal remains and wreckage of this Soviet-era aircraft.
Rajeev Rawat, the team leader said that the team members spotted the aircraft's parts and the soldier's body a few metres away from each other.
In 2003, a team of mountaineers from the Manali-based ABV Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports had found some parts of the plane, along with a corpse, later identified as Sepoy Beli Ram who hailed from Jammu and Kashmir's Akhnoor.
Beli Ram had joined the Indian Army in 1963 and was a non-ranking soldier.
Then four years later, three more bodies were recovered by an Indian Army expedition team, code-named Operation Punaruthan-II. From 2003 till last year only five bodies have been recovered.
It is believed that bodies other victims may also be lying in the area which is inaccessible and has freezing temperatures.