A remote-operated vehicle that can scan inside water, up to a depth of 3.5 km, has joined the search for the Indian Air Force’s AN-32 aircraft, which went missing with 29 on board on July 22, launching the third phase of operation to trace the plane.
“Now we are in the third phase of search operations, wherein Sagar Nidhi is today sailing with the remote operated vehicle which will go down to the depth of 3,500 metres,” Coast Guard inspector general Rajan Bargotra said.
“After the first phase of search operations, in the second phase we have utilised two vessels — the Sagar Nidhi from National Institute of Ocean Technology and the other one — Samudra Ratnagar from Geological Survey of India.”
These two vessels carried out extensive underwater search operations in the area, he told reporters.
The Coast Guard and the Navy have identified about 15 locations in the Bay of Bengal where the aircraft is suspected to have gone down.
The IAF recently informed the families of those on board the missing aircraft that their relatives were “presumed dead”.
So far two phases — surface search and sub-surface — have been undertaken, but no debris of the transport aircraft that went missing on its way to Port Blair from Tambaram airbase here has been found.