AN-32 crash: Bad weather forces IAF to change its rescue strategy to retrieve victims' mortal remains

The Air Force informed helicopters, including Mi17s, Cheetah and ALH have been unable to approach the site during the last three days, because of inclement weather in the valley.

Published: 19th June 2019 12:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th June 2019 12:29 AM   |  A+A-

IAF AN-32, Missing IAF Aircraft

File Image of AN-32 transport aircraft for Representational Purposes (AFP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The incessant rains and cloud have compelled the Air Force to change its strategy to bring back the mortal remains, FDR and CVR of its brothers-in to their families.

The hapless AN-32 transport aircraft had crashed on June 3 in Lipo, northeast of Tato, at an approximate elevation of 12,000 feet.

The Air Force informed helicopters, including Mi17s, Cheetah and ALH have been unable to approach the site during the last three days, because of inclement weather in the valleys and cloud cover over the crash site.

Changing its strategy, IAF, in coordination with the civil administration has launched ground team comprising Garud commandos of the IAF, SF of Indian Army, civilian porters and hunters is already on its way to the accident site on foot. The first element of this trekking party is likely to reach the site late on 19 Jun 19.

The team was formed the day before yesterday and had begun the trekking.

Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh, PRO Shillong said that the trekking team has 19 members: 4 Garud commandos of IAF, 4 from Special Forces of Army, 1 civilian hunter and 11 porters.

“It is not going to be easy as it took eight hours last time to reach the crash site when the teams were dropped at Payum last time.”

Here they are going to make their way through the thick jungles and will gain height to reach the site at 12000 ft, said Wg Cdr Ratnakar. Bringing down the mortal remains will be a herculean task.

Retrieval operations require the steep mountain sides to be visible for the helicopters to safely hover close to the crash site and for operating crew to be able to see the personnel on the ground.

The wreckage of the missing AN-32 was located by a Mi-17 helicopter on 11 Jun 19, following which the team of 15 mountaineers was dropped near the crash site the very next day. Later, three more mountaineers joined the rescue team. The mortal remains of Air warriors, FDR and CVR were recovered at the site and nothing has been retrieved till now.

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