Itanagar, June 11 (IANS): The Indian Army and the local Arunachal Scouts are ready to move to ground zero with aid and assistances to establish the status of the 13 occupants of the Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 aircraft that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3, an official said on Tuesday.
The IAF said on Tuesday that it has spotted the wreckage of the missing AN-32 aircraft 16-km north of Lipo, northeast of Tato, at an approximate elevation of 12,000 feet with the help of an IAF Mi-17 helicopter undertaking search in the expanded area.
“The area has tough topography and terrain and retrieving of bodies may take some time. The Indian Army and the local Arunachal Scouts are ready to move towards the spot,” Gijum Tali, a state government official said.
“Arunachal Pradesh Energy Development Agency (APEDA) Deputy Director Somar Potom, who has been deputed by the West Siang District administration to be part of the search operation, said that though the wreckage site has been spotted, he along with IAF officers have left for a close, final survey,” Tali added.
The transport aircraft with tail number K-2752 took off on June 3 from the Jorhat airbase in Assam for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi-Yomi district bordering China.
Tali said the aircraft which lost control at Payum after taking off from Jorhat appeared to have turned left towards Mechuka from the Gasheng village before losing control near Gatte.
“Our next effort is to get to the wreckage site to establish the status of the occupants and search for the black box and CVR of the ill-fated aircraft with tail number K-2752,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told IANS.
“Mountaineering teams of the IAF and the Army are being formed. They will be inducted tommorow by means of helicopters to look for survivors and other things,” Singh said, adding that no exercise was taking place now to reach the crash site by road.
On June 8, the IAF announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information leading to the location of the missing aircraft.
The IAF had pressed into service a SU-30 jet fighter, C130 J, Mi17 and ALH helicopters to trace the missing Russian-origin transporter aircraft. The Indian Navy’s Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i also conducted an aerial survey to locate the partly upgraded AN-32 aircraft.
Two Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellites — CARTOSAT and RISAT — were also taking images of the area.
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R.D. Mathur is monitoring the search and rescue operations. He had interacted with the families of the missing IAF personnel.