The wreckage of Indian Air Force's (IAF) AN-32 aircraft with 13 people on board has been located by a Mi-17 chopper in Arunachal Pradesh. An IAF Mi-17 chopper is now over the location reportedly in Payum circle of Siang district.
The IAF has taken to Twitter to confirm the development. "The wreckage of the missing #An32 was spotted today 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft by the #IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone," tweeted IAF.
The IAF added, "Efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants & establish survivors. Further details will be communicated as the recovery actions progress."
The aircraft, carrying eight crew members and five passengers, took off from Jorhat in Assam at 12.25 pm on June 3 for the Mechuka Advance Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh. The plane's last contact with ground agencies was at around 1.00 pm on the same day.
Search operations were intensified as the jet remained untraced days after the incident. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has also pressed into service its RISAT series of radar imaging satellites to hunt for the missing aircraft. The Indian Navy has also joined the search operations.
The IAF took To Twitter to announce a reward of Rs 5 lakh for anyone who provides credible information on the Russian-origin An-32 aircraft. RD Mathur, Air Marshal, made the announcement for the cash reward. The numbers are 0378-3222164, 9436499477, 9402077267 and 9402132477 - were also provided by the IAF for people to contact the air force.
Due to rain and bad weather, the rescue mission got delayed.
IAF has reportedly recorded around four crashes or disappearances of AN-32s.
In a similar case back in 2016, an AN-32 carrying 29 people had gone missing while flying from Chennai to Port Blair in Andaman and the Nicobar Islands. This operation was called off as all 29 were presumed dead.