The wife of the pilot who commanded the missing Indian Air Force (IAF) plane was on duty at the air traffic control when it disappeared from the radar. The IAF AN-32, piloted by Ashish Tanwar, went missing in Arunachal Pradesh on Monday with 12 personnel including seven officers and six air warriors on board.
Sandhya Tanwar, Ashish's wife, was closely monitoring the movement of her husband's jet even as it went off the radar. As the jet was heading towards a base in Arunachal Pradesh's Menchuka, it went off the radar at around 1 pm. Sandhya was stationed at the IAF air traffic control room at 12:25 pm on the same day.
"Sandhya called us an hour later to inform what had happened; they lost contact with the aircraft at 1 pm," said Ashish Tanwar's uncle, according to the Indian Express.
Further, his uncle speculated that the aircraft might have crossed over to China to make an emergency landing. He also said that the Flight Lieutenant's father has gone to Assam to meet the authorities and get updates. However, Ashish's shattered mother is at home, barely able to speak without bursting into sobs.
Ashish and Sandhya got married in February 2018 and have been living in Assam. Recently, both of them visited their family in Haryana.
Meanwhile, search operations have been intensified even as the jet remains untraced four 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.
In a statement, the IAF said no wreckage of AN-32 has been sighted so far.
#IAF has intensified efforts to locate the missing AN-32. Despite challenges posed by vegetation, inhospitable terrain & poor weather,the search has been expanded.All leads from airborne sensors are being closely assessed and followed-up with search by aircraft & ground teams 1/2— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 5, 2019
The IAF aircraft went missing on June 3 with 13 people on board in Arunachal Pradesh. The AN-32, a Russian origin aircraft, took off at 12.25 pm and was supposed to land at Mechuka advance landing ground in Arunachal. It lost contact with the ground agencies at 1 pm, prompting the IAF to launch a search operation to locate it.
In a similar incident 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.