The Indian Air Force (IAF) has issued a statement, denying reports that the wreckage of its AN-32 aircraft, which went missing with 13 persons on board from the Menchuka airfield of Arunachal Pradesh, is found. Taking to Twitter, the IAF wrote, "Some reports of possible location of crash site were received, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far". Earlier there were reports that the wreckage of the missing IAF AN-32 aircraft has been found near Payum village in the state. The aircraft lost contact with ground agencies after it took off from the Jorhat airbase in Assam around 12:25 pm this afternoon. Of the 13 passengers onboard, eight were crew while the remaining five were passengers.
After reports about the possible location of the crash site started doing rounds on social media, the IAF clarified, "An IAF AN-32 took off from Jorhat at 12:27 hrs for Menchuka ALG. Aircraft last contacted ground control at 13:00 hrs. There was no further contact with the aircraft. Efforts are on to establish the whereabouts of the aircraft".
"C-130J, AN-32 and Mi-17 of IAF and Indian Army ALH helicopter launched to locate the missing aircraft," it added.
"IAF is coordinating with Indian Army, various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. Search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of Indian Army through the night," the IAF said in a series of tweets.
IAF is coordinating with Indian Army, various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. Search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of Indian Army through the night. 4/4— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 3, 2019
Following the disappearance, the Indian Air Force had deployed its Sukhoi-30 combat and C-130 special operation aircraft to locate the 'missing plane', as it did not reach the airfield on time. Apart from the special operation aircrafts, all other available resources were put on service to find the aircraft.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to IAF Vice Chief and Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria and prayed for the safety of all passengers on board.
Taking to Twitter Singh wrote, "Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours. He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board".
Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours.
He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 3, 2019
In a similar incident, the Antonov An-32 of the Indian Air Force had disappeared over the Bay of Bengal with 29 people onboard in July 2016. At that time, the aircraft was out of the radar contact for about one hour after it took off from the Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai. It was on its way to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Though the IAF had launched India's largest search operation to locate the missing AN-32, the aircraft was never found and presumed to have crashed with all the people onboard. The search operations were called off on September 2016.
An AN-32 aircraft had also crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh in June 2009 in which left 13 defence personnel killed.
The AN-32 is a Russian origin aircraft and the IAF currently operates a sizeable number of it. It is a twin engine turboprop transport aircraft.