An Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft flying from Tambaram in Chennai to Port Blair in the Andamans went missing on Friday morning.
The AN-32 transport aircraft was carrying 29 people on board and was reportedly on courier duty.
As per the latest update, the search operations are on in full swing but no detection has been made so far. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has left for Chennai to monitor the situation.
According to an official release accessed by The News Minute, the aircraft took off from Tambaram at 8:30 am and the last blip on the radar seen by the controller was at 9:12 am. It was supposed to reach its destination at 11:30 am.
Three snags were reported in the same AN-32 aircraft this month.
The last time a technical snag was reported in the aircraft was on July 14, 2016- there was a pressure leak from the port door. Prior to that, snags were recorded on July 7 and July 2 for a hydraulic leak from the port wing root and for sluggish throttle movement respectively. The aircraft was overhauled and upgraded in September 2015 and had flown 279 hours in total.
According to the release, the endurance of the aircraft was 4 hours and 15 minutes.
"As per recorded transcript of Chennai air traffic radar (received at 13:00 hours), last pickup was on 099 deg/151 nm due east of Chennai, when the aircraft was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet."
It was carrying logistics for IAF people stationed at Port Blair and went missing over the Bay of Bengal.
"These were people from the Andaman command, the search operation is on. I cannot comment on the weather conditions then," Andaman Nicobar Command PRO Col. Yogesh Sharma told The News Minute.
Joint search and rescue operations have been launched by the navy, air force and the coast guard.
One Coast Guard ship, three Dornier aircrafts and eight navy ships- Karmukh, Gharial, Jyoti and Kuthar.- have been deployed for search operations about 200 knot miles, east of Chennai. Coast Guard PRO told TNM that Sagar and Dornier aircraft have been pressed into service.
TN Coastal security Group has deployed 12 fast moving interceptors from Chennai to Rameshwaram region in search of the missing aircraft.
The aircraft's flight path was last recorded to be 350 km away from Chennai.
@SpokespersonMoD ....join in for SAR from different places.2/2â€” SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) July 22, 2016
We will put all assets available with us in search operation for IAF aircraft AN-32: Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee pic.twitter.com/Cl3GWrexAfâ€” ANI (@ANI_news) July 22, 2016
The plane should have reached its destination within four hours and is well overdue, according to Defence PRO sources.
The IMD forecast on Friday for the Andamans was for heavy rain at isolated places. According to some reports, there were strong winds and thundestorms at the time of take-off.
There are more than 100 AN-32s in service with the IAF and this particular aircraft had clocked 279 flying hours so far.
(This is a developing story that is being updated as and when new details emerge).