Now, mountaineers join AN-32 search
The aircraft with 13 people on board went missing on Monday last after it took off from Assam’s Jorhat for Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh.Updated: Jun 10, 2019, 00:46 IST
A seven-member team of mountaineers, including two Everesters, on Sunday joined the efforts to locate the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s missing AN-32 transport aircraft.
The aircraft with 13 people on board went missing on Monday last after it took off from Assam’s Jorhat for Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh.
An official in Arunachal Pradesh said Taka Tamut and Kishon Tekseng, who scaled the Mount Everest in 2018, joined the search operation. They belong to Arunachal’s Siang and Upper Siang districts and know the local topography well.
“They left today [Sunday] at six in the morning. Beside two Everesters, the team has five others who have done a course in adventure tourism,” said Siang’s police superintendent Kushal Pal Singh. He added the team volunteered to join the rescue efforts.
Singh said the seven-member team is among the six ground teams sent to jungles in Siang district’s Payum Circle. He said other teams are in Kaying Circle. The two places are where the aircraft is suspected to have disappeared.
“A villager in Payum Circle mentioned seeing an aircraft flying at a very low altitude,” said Singh. He added it is yet to be confirmed whether it was the same missing aircraft or some other.Earlier, villagers from Tumbin Basti said they saw thick smoke at a distance of a few kilometers on the June 3 when the AN-32 disappeared. But Singh said ground teams did not find anything there. “It is a very thick jungle where the aircraft is suspected to have been lost. Police, army and paramilitary personnel can also enter the jungle only with the help of locals acquainted with the terrain and armed with a Dao (machete) to clear the foliage,” Singh said. He added it is difficult to cover over 20 kilometres in a day in the forest. In Shillong, an IAF statement said there is still no clue about the missing aircraft. “The area of search is mountainous and heavily forested with thick undergrowth,” the statement said. It added bad weather is hampering the search efforts. “Helicopters, UAV and C-130J were airborne for missions but landed back due to rains and bad weather.” The statement added they could only perform limited operations.
The statement said the ground teams have made considerable headway into the search area “which has been progressively expanded based on inputs from multiple sources. Search on the ground will continue through the night.”