As the intensive search for the missing IAF’s AN-32 transport plane with 29 people onboard entered the fourth day on Monday, a top Coast Guard official said no debris or survivors have been located yet.
“As of now no debris or survivors have been found… 13 Naval vessels, 2 Coast Guard ships besides assets from Andaman and Nicobar islands are engaged in the operations,” Coast Guard Commander (East) Inspector General Rajan Bargotra told a press conference.
“We have not been able to locate debris or survivor in the seas,” he said.
The Coast Guard is coordinating the search operations for the AN-32 aircraft which went off radar 16 minutes after taking off from nearby Tambaram airbase on its way to Port Blair on July 22.
Bargotra said that during the last four days, the area of search operation had been extended and “we are looking on all directions.”
Stating that a linear search was conducted side by side, he said,”we are picking up some items but they don’t belong to the aircraft. Presently the search is continuous.”
On challenges being faced in the search operations, Bargotra said the weather which was bad had improved since Sunday.
Referring to absence of beacons from the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) of the aircraft, he said signals from it would have made the rescue task much easier.
“ELT did not operate it is a matter of concern. It has been taken up with equipment manufacturer,” the CG official said.
He said the next step would be to go in for underwater search after surface level searches, adding it was not very simple.
Several agencies, including National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (NCOIS), were coordinating in the search operations and if needed vessel of NIOT ‘Sagar Nidhi’ which is on its way from Mauritius will be used for search operations, he said.
Replying to a question, Bargotra said they had enough resources to undertake the operations, adding the search area had been expanded from the initial 14,400 square nautical miles.