Search for the missing IAF AN-32 aircraft entered its third day on July 23 with no sign of any debris in the Bay of Bengal. The aircraft was carrying 29 people.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who reached Chennai on Saturday, is reviewing the search operations.
One of the major challenges in the search operation is the think monsoon clouds in the region. The aircraft en route to Port Blair from Chennai went missing around 300 kilometers after takeoff from the Tamil Nadu capital.
As of now, the Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force and Coast Guard are jointly conducting the search using a fleet of ships and aircraft including a submarine. The search area lies along the length of the sea between Chennai and Port Blair.
Following reports that the aircraft that went missing had developed snags thrice since June, the IAF said that there is no possibility that it could have developed a fourth.
“Every plane is bound to have any technical problems. We have a book called Form 700, it is a technical document, whereby we record each and every technical snag we encounter in the plane. We have a technical staff who asses the complainants written in the form and redress the problems accordingly, when they are fully satisfied that a particular aircraft is air worthy then only it is airborne,” IAF PRO Anupam Banerjee told ANI.
The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has provided the coordinates for the search operation.
The search area. Twitter/Speokesperson Indian Navy
According to TOI
, the coordinates place the search area in a triangle between 217 km from Chennai coast to 375 km. The exact area of the search is approximately 5000 square kilometers. What INCOIS fears is that despite having narrowed it down the chances of locating an aircraft within this area is 50 per cent. If the search area is increased, the chances go down. Meanwhile, the defence minister has instructed that families of those missing should be constantly kept informed of developments.
Some of those missing are:
Flight Lieutenant Deepika Sheoran, 26. Flight Lieutenant Kunal Barpatte. Leading Aircraftman Laxmi Kant Tripathi, 25. Purna Chandra Senapati, 28. Naval Armament Depot (NAD). Charan Maharana, 27. NAD. B Samba Murthy, NAD. P Nagendra Rao, NAD. R Prasad Babu, NAD. N Chinna Rao, NAD. G Srinivas Rao, NAD. I.P. Vimal, 31, Indian Army Engineering wing. Sajiv Kumar, 38, petty officer, Indian Navy. Ekanath Shetty, 48, Madras Regiment, Indian Army.