Major tragedy was averted as passengers of an AN-32, a military transport aircraft, were rescued minutes after the aircraft caught fire after landing at the Chandigarh air force station on Saturday night.
As soon as the plane landed around 9pm, its engine caught fire, following which crash fire tenders were rushed to extinguish the fire and 11 persons in the plane, including crew, were rescued.
About 70% of the plane is reported to have got damaged in the mishap. Sources said an inquiry would be initiated into the mishap to find out the reasons. "It was a landing incident. There is damage to the aircraft. There is no casualty," said Group Captain Gerard Galway, public relation officer, Air Force headquarters, New Delhi.
The AN-32 aircraft were bought in 1980s from Russia and India was the first customer. Since then the aircraft, having a carrying capacity of around 7,000 kg, have been involved in air maintenance of Jammu and Kashmir sector, including air dropping and air landing operations at the highest dropping zones and advance landing grounds like Kargil, Thoise and Leh, both by day and night. It had also landed at Daulat Beg Oldi in 2008, the highest landing strip in the world. This light transport plane has an advantage over other aircraft of flying in thin air particularly in high altitude conditions.