An aircraft of the Indian Air Force went missing over the Bay of Bengal on Friday, the 22nd. There were 29 people on-board the Russian-made AN-32 aircraft, which was flying from Chennai to Port Blair. The plane left the Tambaram air base near Chennai at 8.30 a.m. on Friday and was supposed to land at Port Blair around 11.45 a.m. It was at 9:12 a.m. that it fell off the radar, 280 km east of Chennai. The aircraft may have plunged rapidly from an altitude of 23,000 feet, said an officer. It is an aircraft that can fly for up to four hours without refueling and is expected to operate in all weather conditions.
According to officials, it was “courier flight” with service personnel on board. A major search and rescue operation has been launched by the Indian Navy and the Air Force. The Navy has sent five surveillance aircraft including a Dornier, and 13 ships – Sahyadri, Rajput, Ranvijay, Kamorta, Kirch, Karmuk, Kora, Kuthar, Shakti, Jyoti, Ghariyal and Sukanya. Even more assets are reported as being dispatched.
According to Air Force and Navy officials, the search hasn’t found any signs of wreckage yet.The Defence Ministry said on Saturday that the ongoing search efforts were hampered by choppy seas and thick monsoon clouds. The local media reported clear skies and improved weather on Sunday. This may be good news for the search operation currently underway.