For family members of the crew on board the Indian Air Force aircraft that has gone missing, each passing hour without any information is only adding to the anxiety.
Vimal, one of the crew members of the IAF’s AN-32 aircraft that went missing in the Bay of Bengal on Friday morning, spoke to his wife just before boarding. He told his wife that he would call her as soon as he landed.
Vimal, who hails from Kozhikode in Kerala, has been with the Indian Army for over 13 years. His wife and mother lived about 10 kilometers from the city.
Somanathan, Vimal's uncle told The News Minute that the officials had confirmed to the family that Vimal was missing only on Saturdaymorning. However, a friend had informed the family on Friday.
With the search for the missing aircraft not yielding any result even 24 hours later, Vimal’s family is getting desperate.
"Vimal's wife and mother, who have been watching television since Friday are disturbed and very depressed. His friend had informed the family at around 12:30pm on Friday that Vimal was missing. However, they have not received any other information. They are only hoping that Vimal and others are safe," Somanathan said.
The IAF PRO Anupam Banerjee on Saturday said that the search operations are still on. However, the biggest challenge is adverse weather and low visibility.
The IAF transport aircraft was flying from Chennai’s Tambaram airbase to Port Blair in the Andamans, with 29 people on board including six crew members. It took off at 8:30 am and was to land in Port Blair at 11:30 am. However, the aircraft went off the radar 40 minutes after it took off. It had turned back and was closer to Chennai when it went missing. The plane was on weekly courier duty carrying materials and people.
A joint search operation was launched by Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard on Friday. The IMD had forecast heavy rainfall for isolated areas in the Andamans.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar reached Chennai on Saturday and joined a sortie conducted by the armed forces.