Indian Military Plane Goes Missing Over Sea
India’s air force says it has lost contact with a transport plane carrying 29 people that has gone missing in the Bay of Bengal.
The AN-32 aircraft took off from Tambaram base in Chennai at 8.30am local time, and was due to touch down at the Port Blair military base in the Andaman and Nicobar islands at 11.20am.
The flight was supposed to last three hours but the control tower said it lost all contact with the aircraft about 15 minutes after take-off at a height of 21,000 feet.
The Defence Ministry tweeted: “Full scale search and rescue launched to look for an IAF AN-32 overdue at Port Blair since 1130 hrs. Max assets being deployed at earliest.”
Indian Navy spokesperson DK Sharma said: “As of now we will term it as overdue. A full scale search and rescue mission has been launched.”
According to the Defence Ministry the aircraft was last detected east of Chennai and made a left turn with a rapid loss of height.
Details of the passengers on board have not yet been released, but the ministry confirmed there were 21 military personnel including six crew, and some family members of soldiers deployed on the islands.
The plane went through an upgrade last September, but this month had reported a pressure leak from the port door, a hydraulic leak and sluggish throttle.
Sky’s Neville Lazarus, in Delhi, said: “The plane was 150 miles into its route when it went missing and four surveillance planes, 12 ships and a submarine are involved in the rescue and search operation.
“The Indian government isn’t taking any chances and they’ve pushed into service all the fleet available to them for this.
“We have to bear in mind we are in the midst of the monsoon season with low visibility and also very high winds with rain all over this vast area of water that is the Bay of Bengal.”
The AN-32 is a Russian-made aircraft and is the main work horse of the Indian air force – they can fly for four hours without refuelling.
There are about 100 of these planes in the defence forces.
In one of the worst disasters involving an AN-32 in India, 20 people died and three civilians were burnt to death when a plane crashed near a New Delhi airport in 1999.
Courtesy of Sky News