The wreckage of the missing AN-32, which went off radar a week ago, was spotted on Tuesday in northern Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian Air Force confirmed on Tuesday. In a tweet, the IAF stated that the wreckage was spotted around 16 kilometres north of Lipo and north-east of Tato, Arunachal Pradesh by an Mi-17 helicopter of the IAF which was engaged in search operations. The AN-32 aircraft, with 13 onboard, was reported missing on the afternoon of June 3.
The wreckage of the missing #An32 was spotted today 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft by the #IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone..— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 11, 2019
“Efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants & establish survivors. Further details will be communicated as the recovery actions progress,” the official handle of the Indian Air Force said.
The AN-32 aircraft had departed at 12.25 pm from Jorhat in Assam for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh. However, the aircraft did not reach its destination. It had last contacted ground sources at 1 pm. There were eight crew members and five passengers on board.
The IAF had initiated a massive search for the aircraft and resources from various agencies, including ISRO, were brought into the operation to enhance its effectiveness. However, bad weather over the past week had affected the search operation, with the IAF stating on June 8 that the area of the search is mountainous and heavily forested with thick undergrowth. The weather had also been inclement with low clouds and rain during most hours and combined with the inhospitable terrain, it posed serious challenges to the aerial search operation.
The IAF had deployed Indian Navy’s P8i aircraft, IAF’s C-130 aircraft, Mi-17 helicopters, Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) as well as Cheetah helicopters to conduct the aerial search operations. In addition to these, Indian Army’s ALH helicopters were also deployed. The IAF had tweeted that around 150 such aircraft and helicopters were engaged in the operation to locate the missing AN-32.
The IAF had also stated that in addition with the aerial search, searches by ground teams of the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBP), the state police as well as members of the local population were also carried out.