ITANAGAR: 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 including Army, Indo Tibetan Border Police, and state police 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 eight passengers and five crew members 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. Families of all the air warriors are being regularly updated about the rescue ops by the IAF.
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.
IAF officials said ISRO's Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area around Menchuka to help the rescuers find the plane.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha MP from Aska, Pramila Bisoyil, has urged Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to expedite the search operations to trace the aircraft of the Indian Air Force that went missing with 13 people on board.
In a letter to the defence minister on Saturday, the first time MP said, Sunit Mohanty, a 28-year-old flight lieutenant, was among the eight crew members on board the AN-32 transport aircraft.
"Mohanty belongs to my parliamentary constituency. His parents are quite disturbed following the incident. It is very painful to see their plight. I appeal to you to expedite the search operations," Bisoyi said.