The massive hunt for an Indian Air Force plane that went missing in stormy monsoon weather over the Bay of Bengal on Friday, July 22 with 29 people on board has dragged into the fourth day. The Indian Air Force Chief Marshal Arup Raha has only come out with a statement now. Air Force and Navy officials said the search was continuing but no signs of any wreckage had so far been found.
"It is very unfortunate that we have not been able to trace the missing aircraft and the personnel on board. It is a very difficult moment for all of us and we share the concerns of the distraught family members. IAF authorities are in constant touch with the family members of the missing personnel and they are being regularly updated about the efforts being made to trace the missing aircraft and personnel," said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.
Rescuers have failed to pick up any emergency transmitter signals from the plane, an official said on Monday.
Rajan Bargotra, a senior coastguard official, said the absence of signals from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) made the operation very difficult.
"It is important to know why ELT has not worked as it could have helped narrow down the location of the plane," Bargotra told reporters.
The ELT device is meant to start transmitting the plane's location the moment it touches water or in the event of a crash.
Difficulties have been compounded by stormy monsoon weather in the Bay of Bengal.
Families of the military personnel on board of the missing plane have been anxiously waiting for any news.
"He left on Wednesday. I also went up to the road to drop him. I made him sit in the auto. He told me he was going for 20 days and that it could extend by two more days," said wife of Chinnarao, an employee of Naval Armament Depot, who was on board of the plane.
"Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave personnel face in the execution of our daily missions. A thorough enquiry will be conducted to ascertain exactly what led to this unfortunate event. The IAF remains committed to provide the best possible equipment and training to our personnel so that they can execute their assigned missions professionally. Our prayers and thoughts are there with the missing personnel and their families and no effort will be spared to locate them,” informed Raha.
Sixteen ships, a submarine and six aircraft are searching for the plane that disappeared on a routine re-supply flight to remote islands in the Bay of Bengal on Friday.
AN-32 aircraft was on a scheduled courier sortie from Tambaram, Chennai to Port Blair when it went missing. The aircraft had departed Tambaram at 0830 AM on July 22 with 6 crew and 23 personnel.
Radar contact with the aircraft was lost when the aircraft was east of Chennai at an approximate distance of 270 km. Since then there has been no contact with the aircraft.