Missing IAF AN-32 brings back memories of 2009 crash


ITANAGAR | June 4, 2019 (IANS):

The AN-32 of the Indian Air Force that went missing on Monday from a remote location in India-China border reminded the people of the hill state about a similar tragedy about a decade back.

In June 2009, an AN-32 aircraft like the one went missing on Monday, after going off the radar was later found to have crashed in the jungles of the area, which falls between West Singa and Shi Yomi districts.

What is more distressing is the fact that both the aircraft had 13 people on board and both were flying for Mechuka advanced landing ground.

"Although I was not there that time, I was told that a similar tragedy happened here about a decade back. An AN-32 aircraft crashed on a hilltop near Tato village, which is under Shi Yomi district," said Shi Yomi deputy commissioner, Mito Dirchi while speaking to this correspondent on Monday.

A defence spokesman based in Delhi said that the AN-32 aircraft took off from Jorhat at 1227 hrs on Monday for Mechuka ALG. Aircraft last contacted ground control at 1300 hrs and since then there was no further contact with the aircraft.

He said that efforts are on to locate the aircraft. "C-130J, AN-32 and Mi-17 of IAF and Indian Army ALH helicopter launched to locate the missing aircraft. Some reports of possible location of the crash site were received, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far," he said.

While Monday's AN-32 took off from Jorhat base, the one that crashed in 2009 took off from Mohanbari airport in Dibrugarh.

It is difficult to trace the wreckage in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh due to thick forest cover.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Shi Yomi district said a police team had carried out search operation today with the help from local villagers, but had to stop in the evening due to darkness. The operation will start in the morning again, he added.