All the 13 Air Force personnel on board the AN-32 plane that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3 are confirmed dead. The search and rescue team that landed near the crash site on Thursday found no survivors but recovered the flight data recorder or black box. This retrieval will help the IAF to ascertain the cause of the accident.
“Eight members of the rescue team reached the crash site today morning. IAF is sad to inform that there are no survivors from the crash of AN-32,” the IAF said in a tweet.
The 13 personnel onboard were identified as Wing Commander GM Charles, Squadron Leader H Vinod, Flight Lieutenants R Thapa, A Tanwar, S Mohanty and MK Garg, Warrant Officer KK Mishra, Sgt Anoop Kumar, Cpl Sherin, Leading Aircraft Men (LAC) SK Singh, Pankaj, Non Combatant Enrolled NC(E) Putali and Rajesh Kumar.
The families of the personnel have also been informed, officials said.
For a week, relatives of the 13 personnel were positioned at a Jorhat base camp waiting for news about their loved ones.
On Wednesday, the first team of mountaineers of the IAF reached the crash site after getting airdropped but could not get close due to rain. On reaching the exact spot on Thursday, the unit did not find any survivors. Efforts are now on to secure the remains of the deceased and deliver the black box safely to the IAF authorities for examination, sources said.
Meanwhile, ground troops of the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will reach the site in day or two for salvaging the parts of the plane and other related activities.
The wreckage of the aircraft was spotted on Tuesday 16 kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12,000 ft by an IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone. The IAF on Thursday airdropped a 15-member team of mountaineers to look for survivors and retrieve the blackbox.
The ill-fated transport aircraft took off from Jorhat in Assam at 12.25 pm for Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh. It lost radio contact at about one pm and when the plane did not land at Mecuka at the scheduled time, the IAF launched the search operation. The flying time between Jorhat and Mechuka located at an altitude of 6,000 feet is about 50 minutes. The distance between Jorhat and Mechuka is 206 km as the crow flies.
For nearly eight days the IAF searched for the plane in an approximately 1,000 sq km of area mostly dense forests and steep hills by deploying SU-30 fighter jets, C-130J special operations planes, P-8I long range reconnaissance aircraft, MI-17 and advanced light helicopters besides satellites of the India Space Research Organisation(ISRO).