The Indian Air Force airlifted a search-and-rescue team, which had been stranded since June 12 in Arunachal Pradesh, from where an AN-32 aircraft had crashed earlier this month, on Saturday evening.

The 15-member team – comprising eight personnel from the Indian Air Force, four from the Army and three civilians – was flown back in ALH and Mi-17V5 helicopters. All 15 are fit and in good health, said the Indian Air Force.

The team was stranded for 17 days at a height of 12,000 feet in the border area of Siang and Shi-Yomi districts due to bad weather. They had gone there to retrieve the bodies of 13 people who were on board the AN-32 aircraft when it crashed on June 3.

“The team has been reinforced with ration and other essential supplies and we are in constant communication with them through satellite phones,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh had said earlier on Saturday, reported The Hindu.

The team had found the wreckage of the missing aircraft on June 11. They had recovered the 13 bodies from the crash site on June 20. While six bodies were retrieved on June 19, the remaining were recovered the next day.

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 had started search operations. The Air Force had 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 June 9, seven mountaineers, including two who have scaled Mount Everest, joined the search.