LIPO: Hopes on the fate of 13 personnel onboard the missing IAF AN-32 aircraft appear to have been dashed with the Air Force on Tuesday saying that it has located the wreckage of the aircraft in a valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
After an extensive search for eight days, the IAF managed to locate the wreckage 16 kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an altitude of 12,000 feet.
The aircraft had been missing since June 3 after taking off from Jorhat air base in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh with 13 persons on board.
"The wreckage of the aircraft was spotted today 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft by the IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone," an IAF spokesperson said. "Efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants and establish survivors," they added.
Visual of the wreckage of the missing AN-32 spotted earlier today 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato, at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft, in Arunachal Pradesh by the IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone pic.twitter.com/8ASt4uZXdE— ANI (@ANI) June 11, 2019
"After identification of the wreckage of #An32 by Mi-17V5, the Cheetah of #IAF & #ALH of #IndianArmy reached the crash site. Due to high elevation & dense forest, helicopters could not land next to the crash site. However, nearest landing site has been identified & the rescue operation by helicopters will commence tomorrow early morning. Ground forces will continue to reach the crash site during the night," the IAF posted on its official twitter handle.
IAF sources said that from first light tomorrow morning, the Air Force will try to air drop search teams including Garud commandos, IAF mountaineers and other ground forces to search the area for more wreckage of the plane and also try to locate possible survivors of the 13 personnel on board the plane.
Parts of the aircraft were located 15-20 km north of the flight path of the aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Indian Air Force has been carrying out extensive search and rescue mission for the missing aircraft including use of Research and Analysis Wing's Global 5000 spy plane, NTRO satellites, Naval P-8I surveillance aircraft along with its own Mi-17 choppers, C-130J special operations planes and all possible assets from different agencies.
The wreckage was today located by the crew of a Mi-17 V5 chopper.
The IAF had on Saturday announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone providing information about the location of the AN-32 transport aircraft.