In­dian mil­i­tary plane miss­ing in Bay of Ben­gal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

MUMBAI: An In­dian air force plane car­ry­ing 29 peo­ple went miss­ing yes­ter­day on a flight to a re­mote is­land chain in the Bay of Ben­gal, the de­fence min­istry said.

The Rus­sian- made AN- 32 was on its way to Port Blair, the cap­i­tal of In­dia’s An­daman and Ni­co­bar is­lands, from the south-east city of Chen­nai when it dis­ap­peared from radar. Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said the weather had been rough in the Bay of Ben­gal for the last two days, dur­ing the mon­soon sea­son.

The air­craft was last de­tected on radar 280km east of Chen­nai, mak­ing a left turn with a rapid loss of height from 7 000m, ac­cord­ing to a note pro­vided by the air force to the de­fence min­istry.

There were 21 mil­i­tary per­son­nel on board, in­clud­ing six crew. The other peo­ple on board were civil­ians, some fam­ily mem­bers of sol­diers de­ployed on the is­lands.

“It was a rou­tine courier mission to Port Blair, the plane was air­borne at 8.30am and due to land at 11.30,” air force spokesman Wing Com­man­der Anu­pam Banerjee said. It had enough fuel to fly for just over four hours.

The plane was over­hauled and went through an up­grade in Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the note given to the min­istry.

The plane had re­ported three snags this month, it said – a pres­sure leak from the port door, a hy­draulic leak and slug­gish throt­tle move­ment.

The de­fence min­istry said four planes, 12 ships and a sub­ma­rine were search­ing for the air­craft in one of In­dia’s largest search and res­cue op­er­a­tions in re­cent years.

In­dia has been beef­ing up its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the An­damans, 1 300km from main­land In­dia, in re­cent years.

The min­istry said the sub­ma­rine had been de­ployed to lo­cate trans­mis­sions from an emer­gency lo­ca­tor bea­con on the air­craft. – Reuters

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