IAF, Army, mountaineers reach AN-32 crash site to look for survivors

The AN-32 aircraft wreckage of the IAF was spotted on Tuesday in a heavily forested mountainous terrain by a Mi-17 helicopter

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New Delhi: A team of personnel from Indian Air Force, Army, and some civil mountaineers were on Wednesday airlifted to a location close to the crash site of an AN-32 aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh to look for possible survivors, officials said.

The wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force was spotted on Tuesday in a heavily forested mountainous terrain by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter, eight days after it went missing with 13 people on board.

“A team comprising personnel from IAF, Army and civil mountaineers have been airlifted to a location close to the crash site,” a spokesperson of the IAF said.

Another official said the rescue team will look for possible survivors.

The Russian-origin AN-32 aircraft was going from Jorhat in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground near the border with China on June 3 when it lost contact with ground staff at 1 PM, within 33 minutes of taking off.

The IAF had launched a massive operation after the aircraft went missing and the wreckage of the plane was spotted on Tuesday at a height of 12,000 feet near north of the Lipo locality.

The IAF said efforts are on to establish the status of occupants amid fears that chances of any survivor in one of the worst accidents involving a military platform in recent years may be very bleak.

The IAF spokesperson said Air marshal RD Mathur, Air officer-commanding-in-chief Eastern Air Command complimented the search team for their relentless effort spanning eight days.

Mathur also thanked Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Chief Secretary Satya Gopa for extending unflinching support to the IAF towards locating the missing AN-32.

“The proud and highly patriotic people of the state have worked tirelessly to help the IAF for a national cause,” said the spokesperson.