Rescue teams are working to airlift the bodies of the 13 Air Force personnel who died when their plane crashed in a remote, hilly area in Arunachal Pradesh two weeks ago. Bad weather and rough terrain are making the operation to airlift the bodies difficult, officials said.
The Air Force has said the bodies of the 13 men, who were on board the IAF's An-32 transport plane when it crashed on June 3, and "other material evidence" will be picked up by helicopters and brought to Jorhat in Assam "in stages".
"The recovery team is braving the treacherous terrain and inclement weather in order to bring back the mortal remains as soon as possible," the IAF said in a statement.
The IAF's mountaineers, men from the Army's special forces and local climbers are at the crash site.
The An-32 took off from Jorhat in Assam on June 3 and was on its way to an advanced landing ground at Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh's West Siang district, near the border with China, when it lost contact with the ground station.
An airborne search team spotted the wreckage on Tuesday last, at a height of 12,000 feet near Gatte village on the border of Siang and Shi-Yomi districts, after eight days of a massive search operation involving a fleet of aircraft and choppers as well as ground forces.
"The IAF has flown around 200 sorties towards the An-32 search and recovery operations and is sparing no efforts in recovering the remains of its personnel for which eight helicopters have been deployed," the IAF said in the statement.
Rescue teams on Thursday last recovered the Soviet-origin aircraft's all-important cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder or the black box that will help investigators solve the mystery behind the crash.
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