Indian military plane missing in Bay of Bengal
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