Contrary to earlier reports which stated that wreckage of a missing Indian Air Force AN-32 transport aircraft which went missing was found near Payam in Arunachal Pradesh, the IAF on Monday evening clarified that no wreckage has been spotted so far.
IAF's transport aircraft with eight crew members and five passengers aboard went missing on Monday afternoon. There is no news of the officials and crew members who were on board.
The IAF has launched Sukhoi-30 fighters and C-130 Special Operation aircraft on a search mission to trace the ill-fated aircraft. Several leads from the ground about the possible location of the crash site were followed but no wreckage was found.
The IAF said in a statement that search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of Indian Army through the night.
The aircraft was heading from Jorhat in Assam to Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh. The transport aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.25 pm but lost touch with the ground agencies after the next 35 minutes.
Some reports of possible location of crash site were received, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far. 3/4— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 3, 2019
Sources informed that "An AN-32 aircraft of IAF got airborne today from Jorhat at 1225 hrs for Menchuka Advance Landing Ground. The aircraft last contacted ground agencies at 1300 hrs, thereafter there has been no contact. Since the aircraft did not reach the airfield, overdue action was initiated by IAF."
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was on his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after taking over two days ago, spoke to IAF vice chief, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria and took stock of rescue operations. IAF chief B.S Dhanoa was to be in Sweden on a four-day visit.
The Deputy Commissioner of newly-created Shi Yomi district in Arunachal, Mito Dirchi, said there were some reports of a crash in the jungles of the district.
"We have sent a team for search which includes SP and some villagers. But we have not found any wreckage. We are going to search the areas tomorrow morning again."
The Air Force has employed all available resources to locate the aircraft. Radar pictures are being studied and the helicopters have been put into action, the sources added.
Earlier in July 2016, another AN-32 had gone down into the Bay of Bengal with its 29 passengers onboard. It was going from Chennai to Port Blair.
Russian manufactured AN-32s were inducted in early 80s and around 100 are serving with the Air Force.
(With online desk inputs and agencies)