The search for Indian Air Force’s AN 32 aircraft entered the fifth day but hopes for 29 defence personnel on board it are slim, officials indicated on Tuesday.
“A lot of resources are in place. All leads till now have turned out to be bad. We are trying to concentrate on some links or sound which has emitted from some area. Trying to find out, that needs to be ascertained but there were some false leads but false leads of similar type,” said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in Delhi.
Parrikar refuted a senior Coast Guard official’s claim that the AN 32’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) had failed--a repeat of what allegedly happened when a Coast Guard Dronier aircraft with three crew members on board crashed a year ago.
“I think the submarine finally located the Dornier with the same beeps. Initially sound might not have come due to depth of water but when the submarine went in there, they identified the location. Can’t say whether it is operating or not now but we have not been able to hear it,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources in the Air Force said weather could have played a role in the AN 32’s disappearance.
“The weather was bad but the pilot had taken the required steps,” said a senior official.
He said that Sagar Nidhi, a research vessel of the National Institute of Ocean Technology, has been called from Mauritius to help in the search. Sagar Nidhi has a dynamic positioning system, which keeps its position stable and this is required for oceanographic research.
The Russian-made aircraft took off at 8.30am from Tambaram in Chennai and disappeared over the Bay of Bengal a few minutes later.