A team of Air Force, Army personnel and civilian mountaineers on Wednesday were flown close to the site where an AN-32 transporter aircraft of the Air Force crashed on June 3, NDTV reported. The wreckage of the plane was discovered by a helicopter search team on Tuesday at a height of 12,000 feet in the Payum region of Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi Yomi district but the fate of the 13 people who were on board is not known.
“After having located the crash site, a team comprising personnel from IAF, Army and civil mountaineers have been airlifted to a location close to the crash site,” ANI quoted Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh as saying.
Later in the day, the news agency reported that some of the team members have reached the site. Nine of the 15 climbers in the team are from the Air Force mountaineering team, four are from the Army and two are civilians.
On Tuesday, the Air Force had said helicopters would attempt to land near the crash site the following morning while ground forces would attempt to reach the place during the night.
As scheduled, the operation started at 6.30 am. “It is likely to take some time for the ground parties to reach the crash site,” an unidentified district administration official told IANS. “The area has thick vegetation and the tough terrain often prevents the ground search party from advancing.”
The operation is being directed from a base set up at Kayiang in West Siang district, an Arunachal Pradesh government official told NDTV. A doctor and other emergency services have been kept ready, and a back-up team is also on stand-by. Unidentified officials from the Indian Air Force told the news channel that the base hospital in Assam’s Jorhat town was also ready for medical emergencies.
The transporter aircraft went missing 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat on June 3. It was heading to Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh, near the China border. Soon after, the Air Force, Navy, Army, the local police, state government officials, paramilitary forces and local residents started search operations. The Air Force deployed helicopters, transport aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles along with Navy’s P8I aircraft. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s RISAT series of radar-imaging satellites were also used. On Sunday, seven mountaineers, including two who have scaled Mount Everest, joined the search.