A day after Mi-17 helicopter pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) spotted the wreckage of the missing AN-32 on Tuesday 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato in Arunachal Pradesh at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft, efforts are on to establish survivors. It is still not clear if anybody from the 13-member crew is still alive or not after the military transport aircraft went missing on June 3, 2019. Rescue operation by helicopters has already commenced at the crash site of the AN-32 and the IAF is utilising its Mi-17s and the Indian Army’s Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH).
The IAF used Aviation Research Centre’s Global 5000 surveillance aircraft and NTRO spy satellites along with other assets including Indian Navy’s P-8i Poseidon long-range reconnaissance aircraft, UAVs, Sukho-30 MKIs and Mi-17 helicopters to locate the missing AN-32 aircraft. Finally, they spotted the wreckage of the missing AN-32 aircraft after eight days of an intensive search operation. Even, the specialist sensors installed in the assets couldn’t help in getting better imagery of ground. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh instructed the IAF, Army to use all possible resources to locate the plane and its occupants.
Reports said a villager from Payum had informed the local administration on June 7 that he spotted the plane flying at a very low altitude at Tadum Tasum in Arunachal Pradesh’s Siang district. Based on the inputs received from the villager, the IAF intensified the search operation around Molo and Tumbin and spotted the wreckage of the aircraft on June 11. 2019. The AN-32’s flight path was Payum Payum village of Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh.
The IAF may airdrop its Garud commandos along with local teams, but carrying out combing operations in the thickly forested areas of Arunachal Pradesh remains a herculean task. The authorities may send ground teams on foot but that doesn’t seem to be an easy task. The ground teams, which comprises about 1500 soldiers besides policemen, local villagers and hunters, will have to cross a river and walk through a dense forest which may take them more than 24 hours to reach the spot.