GUWAHATI: The authorities in Arunachal Pradesh have engaged some hunters to search for the missing AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This is in addition to the ongoing search operation being carried out by IAF, Navy, Army, Indo Tibetan Border Police, Arunachal Police and others. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Cartosat and RISAT satellites are also taking images of the forested areas.
Official sources said the hunters, being assisted by the villagers, have been divided into three groups, each comprising three-four members. The reason the hunters have been engaged in the search is that they know the routes in the jungles, the sources said.
The three groups set out for different directions on foot. They will scout deep jungles and treacherous terrains of Bayor adi Mountain range, Pari adi mountain range and Sibir-Virgong mountain range. These fall under Payum circle and are in the line of aircraft route.
Official sources said two other groups, including one from Army, was climbing possible locations to search for the missing aircraft, the state’s Director General of Police SBK Singh said.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu prodded the district authorities of Siang, West Siang, Lower Siang and Shi-Yomi to intensify the search operation. The deputy commissioners (district magistrates) of these districts are working in close coordination with the IAF, the CM’s office said.
The aircraft, which was flying to Mechuka near the China border in Arunachal with 13 IAF personnel on board, was reported missing 33 minutes since it took off from the IAF’s air base in Assam’s Jorhat on Monday.
Meanwhile, three locals of an Arunachal village, Tumbin, claimed that when they were doing field work on that day, they had seen a thick black smoke originating from a mountain, the aerial distance to which will be seven-eight km. Officials in the state said this was being verified. The IAF said nothing had been sighted on Thursday.
“The search and rescue operation by helicopters today was called off due to poor visibility. It will resume tomorrow. However, the C130J aircraft will continue the mission at night,” IAF’s Shillong-based spokesman Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told this newspaper.