Rain, wild animals stand in way of mountaineers’ returning from AN-32 crash site in Arunachal

The Indian Air Force said that rains, hostile terrain, clouds, wild animals, snakes and insects stand in the way of their retreat from the site.

Published: 29th June 2019 01:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th June 2019 01:52 PM   |  A+A-

IAF AN-32, Missing IAF Aircraft

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

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: A team of 15 mountaineers has been stranded for 17 days at the AN-32 crash site in Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The mountaineers – 12 of them from Indian Air Force (IAF) and three locals – were air-dropped on June 12 to retrieve the bodies of 13 IAF personnel who were killed in the crash.

Rains, hostile terrain, clouds, wild animals, snakes and insects stood in the way of their retreat from the site. IAF sources said trekking down the hill, which is as high as 12,000-ft, would be too risky and dangerous in this terrain and heavy rains. “The IAF has been trying to retrieve the mountaineering team as soon as possible. Despite ongoing active monsoon conditions, several sorties have been launched to reach the crash site but excessive clouding has prevented helicopter landings there,” Shillong-based defence spokesman Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told The New Indian Express. 

He said ration and other essential supplies had been air-dropped to the mountaineers. The IAF has been in constant communication with them through satellite phones, he added.

Arunachal’s West Siang district authorities said foot march in the hostile and treacherous terrain in the monsoon would be risky as it would be slippery and the routes along dense forest housed venomous snakes, wild animals and insects. “We are likely to get fair weather by tomorrow or the day after as per weather forecast but things may turn worse if weather plays spoilsports and as a result, the ration commodities might exhaust and force them to trek on foot,” the authorities said in a statement.

The Russian-make aircraft, which was flying to Mechuka near the China border in Shi Yomi district, was reported missing 33 minutes since it took off from IAF’s base in Assam’s Jorhat on June 3. The wreckage was spotted after eight days on June 12. A week later, the mortal remains of the personnel were retrieved.

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