With no headway in the search operation, the Indian Air Force Saturday announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any credible information on the location of An-32 aircraft, which went missing with 13 people on board earlier this week.
“While the search for the missing aircraft is on, Air Marshal RD Mathur, AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command, has announced a cash award of Rs 5 Lakh for the person(s) or group who provide credible information leading to the finding of the aircraft,” a statement released by Wing Commander and Defence Public Relations Officer in Shillong, Ratnakar Singh said.
Providing further details, the statement said, “Finder may contact Air Force on the following numbers- Landline: 0378-3222164. Mobile: 9436499477 / 9402077267 / 9402132477.”
“IAF is using all its assets and taking help of the Army, Arunachal Pradesh civil authorities and other national agencies to locate the missing aircraft,” it added.
On Monday, the AN-32 aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm for the Menchuka advance landing ground and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm. A total of eight aircrew and five passengers were on board the aircraft.
Earlier in the day, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa reviewed the overall search operation at a high-level meeting in Assam’s Jorhat air base from where the aircraft had taken off for Mechuka advanced landing ground.
“Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa was given a detailed briefing about the operations and was apprised with the inputs received so far. He interacted with families of the officers and airmen who were onboard the aircraft,” an IAF spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI.
Aerial search operation, however, could not be undertaken due to poor weather conditions, even as ground troops continued combing the mountainous area for the sixth consecutive day.
The assets deployed for the operation include Sukhoi-30 aircraft in addition to a fleet of C-130J and AN-32 planes and Mi-17 and ALH helicopters. The ground forces include troops from the Army, Indo Tibetan Border Police and state police.
“The area of search is mountainous and heavily forested with thick undergrowth. The weather in the area has been inclement with low clouds and rain during most hours,” the spokesperson said.
IAF officials said ISRO’s Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area around Menchuka to help the rescuers find the plane.
The AN-32 is a Russian origin aircraft and the IAF currently operates a sizeable number of it. It is a twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft.