news Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - 05:30
  “If I have to be pragmatic it is difficult, but when it comes to matters of the heart it is different. So I still have hope,” says Amruta Soni, wife of Deputy Commandant MK Soni who, along with two others, was in the fateful Coast Guard Dornier aircraft CG-791 which crashed into the Bay of Bengal last month. By 9pm on July 8, it would be exactly a month since the Dornier aircraft with the three men - pilot Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar, navigator Deputy Commandant MK Soni and co-pilot Deputy Commandant Subash Suresh – crashed into sea. You can read a detailed report here. Over the past month, the Coast Guard has conducted a massive search operation involving several ships, aircrafts, submarines and other specialized sea vehicles. Yet there is no sign of the aircraft or the three pilots, and the search operations are still on. Family members reach out to Defence Minister, write to PM The parents of MK Soni met Union Defence Minister Manohar Parriker on July 7. The family says that the minister was sympathetic towards their plight and listened to them patiently, and also called on DG Coast Guard HCS Bisht to review search operations. MK Soni’s father, RS Soni, has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the hand-written letter, the despondent father says “I request you that you please help the search operations in any which way possible and as soon as possible. We family members are distraught.” He asks the PM, “Will this search operation become history? Will we not know anything?” He also raises questions over the safety standards of the Dornier, also stating that if we cannot even find our own crew-members then it raises several other questions. He also asks the PM to seek help from other nations for further search operations. Earlier, Padma Shankari, the mother of Deputy Commandant Suresh Subash also wrote to the Defence Ministry seeking an update. The Coast Guard had responded reportedly stating that they have sought help from Sri Lankan authorities in the search operations. Why the delay, and what next? As reported here, it was a difficult search operation to begin with. But even after the triangulation of the signals to a smaller area, they have been unable to locate the aircraft. “The problem is the steep gradient of the sea-bed,” says SP Sharma, IG Coast Guard and the officer spearheading the search efforts. “This has been one of the largest search operations by us. Highest number of ships and aircrafts has been used. We also used the special vessel from National Institute of Ocean Technology and Olympic Canyon, the remote operated vehicle (ROV) owned by Reliance Industries,” he says. Officials say that the ship could be sliding down the slopes on the seabed which is making it difficult to pin-point its exact location. Under pressure to keep the search operations going and find the aircraft and pilots, the Coast Guard has asked the Reliance ROV to return for further search operations. Several experts from across the world have concurred that it is one of the best options available globally. “We are doing everything that has to be done and what countries do globally for such search operations,” says SP Sharma. For the families too, the Reliance ROV is the only ray of hope. “The ROV will now go to the area which is believed to be around the aircraft. Officials say that the signal keeps shifting. I just hope they find it as soon as possible,” says Amruta Soni.  
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