Chennai: The Coast Guard has said it would deploy more ships to intensify its search for the Dornier aircraft that went missing on Monday evening while flying over the Bay of Bengal. The search operations for the aircraft and its three crew members have so far failed to locate the aircraft, over 36 hours after it was last tracked 16 km off the coast of Tamil Nadu.
A senior official said, "We would augment the search with more ships now. The search continued overnight. We are continuing the extended search."
So far, eight ships belonging to the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy have been deployed in the search operations, apart from the advanced Boeing Poseidon P-8I surveillance aircraft. The search, which has so far been carried out off the Karaikal coast has now been extended further south, to include the waters off Rameswaram.
The Dornier aircraft took off from Chennai on Monday evening on a regular sortie to monitor the Tamil Nadu coast and the Palk Bay. It was last tracked 16 km off the coast of Chidambaram, about 200 km south of Chennai, by the airport radar in Tiruchirapalli.
The aircraft was carrying three crew members - pilot Dy Commandant Vidya Sagar, co-pilot Dy Commandant MK Soni and navigator Subash Suresh.
On Tuesday, Coast Guard Inspector General SP Sharma said, "We are proud of the two highly qualified pilots and the navigator. We've launched an unparalleled search mission to save them. We are confident we would be able to find them soon. Based on the wind position, we've compounded our efforts in the Karaikal area."
In March, a Dornier aircraft of the Navy crashed into the sea off the coast of Goa, killing two officers. This had been the first loss of a Dornier for the Indian forces, since they were inducted into service in the 1990s.