The army flagged off a search expedition team on Friday from Sumdo in Himachal Pradesh in an attempt to recover the bodies and wreckage of the ill-fated IAF Antonov An-12 aircraft that crashed more than 50 years ago with 92 soldiers and four crew members on board. The aircraft went missing over Rohtang Pass on its way back from Leh to the Chandigarh Air Force base in 1968.
The Tripeak Brigade Commander flagged off the expedition which will start trekking from Batal Road Head (13,400 feet) to the air crash site (17,292 feet) at Dhaka Glacier. En route, the team will encounter many glaciers with yawning crevasses and places with a gradient of 80 degrees. The team will start the search operation from August 3.
After the aircraft disappeared, there were rumours that it may have strayed into enemy territory and been forced to land, with all the passengers being taken prisoners of war. However, a team of young trekkers attempting to scale the Chandrabhaga-13 peak stumbled over debris of the plane near Dhaka Glacier and found the identity card of a jawan on board the missing aircraft.
This discovery gave a fresh ray of hope to the families of passengers on board to retrieve the bodies of their missing kin and perform the last rites. Since then, numerous search missions have been launched to recover the bodies of the missing soldiers. However, only five bodies have been found till date, with more than 90 soldiers on board the flight still unaccounted for.