Ground teams airdropped near the An-32 aircraft wreckage site at 12,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh will camp close to the location carrying out search operations in the area. The rescue teams hope to identify the 13 Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel who were onboard the An-32 aircraft that went missing more than a week ago.
Sources said a team of 15 men including IAF personnel, army troops and local mountaineers was air dropped on the wreckage site of the IAF An-32 aircraft on Wednesday morning. 15 mountaineers have been inducted by Mi-17s and ALH helicopters with all equipment. They are yet to reach the crash site due to inclement weather and rough terrain. The team will be camping overnight due to difficult terrain and weather and will close in on the crash site tomorrow.
Of the 15 men rescue team, nine are from the IAF mountaineering team, four are from the Army and two are civilian mountaineers.
The rescue team faces many challenges in its mission. The area is thickly forested and has been receiving heavy rains since the last three days, according to local officials.
There are reports of rain and haze all over the mountainous zones of Siang district and I think it will be a herculean task due to the inhospitable terrain, said Shi-Yomi district deputy commissioner Mito Dirchi.
Moreover, there are no walking tracks in the thickly forested area and the first challenge for them would create a path to get to the spot where the wreckage site, sources said.
"This is the initial team of 15 men for setting up a base camp. Once the logistics are there in place more men will be inducted to carry out the operations," said a source.
Mi-17 and ALH helicopters made multiple sorties after air dropping the search team ensuring they can be supplied with all logistics and provisions.
The An-32 of the Indian Air Force went missing June 3, after getting airborne from Air Force Station, Jorhat, Assam. The wreckage of the aircraft was spotted eight days after it went missing 16 km north of Lipo, northeast of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft by the IAF Mi-17 helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone.
Efforts on to find flight recorder ::
Other than making efforts to identify the 13 IAF personnel onboard by carrying out searches in the treacherous terrain those on the ground have also been tasked with locating the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder that will help in investigations into the crash.
The Flight Data Recorder can store up to 30 parameters including details of engine, speed etc to assess what possibly triggered the crash. The cockpit voice recorder can be extremely as it will have the conversations the pilot had with the ground staff minutes before the crash.
"Picking up clues from the wreckage will be crucial in investigating the cause of the crash," said an IAF official.
In the last eight days ISRO satellites, the Indian Navy's reconnaissance P8i and all possible aerial surveillance operations were used along with ground teams of the Indian Army and Indo Tibetan Border Police were used to carry out search operations for the wreckage.
History of missing An-32 aircraft ::
An AN-32 aircraft had crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh in June 2009 in which 13 defence personnel were killed.
The aircraft had crashed over the Rinchi Hill above Heyo village, about 30 km from Mechuka advance landing ground.
In July 2016, an AN-32 aircraft went missing after taking off from Chennai for Port Blair with 29 people on board.
The aircraft could not be traced even after weeks of massive search operations covering 2,17,800 square nautical miles by multiple aircraft.
Months later, an IAF court of inquiry concluded that it was unlikely that the missing personnel on board the aircraft would have survived the accident.