An Indian Air Force's AN-32 aircraft with 29 people on board went missing over Bay of Bengal soon after taking off from Chennai for Port Blair. A massive search operation is underway to locate the plane which is feared to have crashed in the sea, but in vain.
The Indian military is facing huge unpredictability and challenges in carrying out the search and rescue (SAR) operation in the hunt for the An-32 aircraft that disappeared over waters between southern India and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The missing AN-32 reportedly abruptly turned and plunged from 23,000 feet approximately 280-km out at sea from Chennai.
The search was intensified after the satellite imagery pointed to possible floating objects but nothing has been found yet.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, also reached Chennai to lead the search for the Russian transport aircraft with 29 people on board. Mr Parrikar was briefed about the “challenges of undertaking SAR under monsoon conditions with heavy rain, cloud cover, rough sea condition and most importantly depths of over 3,500 metres in the area,” a government statement said.
"Indigenous imagery satellite did give us some pointers to possible floating objects. The area indicated is being searched intensively by ships and aircraft. Nothing sighted as yet," Indian defence sources suggested.
The aircraft was on a routine weekly flight. Of the 29 people who were on the plane include 11 from the Air Force, two of the Army and nine people from the Navy, one person from Coast Guard along with eight defence civilians of the Naval Armament Depot from Vishakhapatnam. Unfortunately, all are feared dead now.
To escalate the searching efforts, the Indian space agency is using its Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) that can see through the clouds to locate the missing plane, informed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman AS Kiran Kumar.