Political leaders cutting across party lines today took to social media to express their condolences for India's "air warriors" in the hours following the Air Force's announcement that nobody on the An-32 aircraft that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh last week has survived.
"For over 10 days, India has hoped & prayed that our 13 Air-Warriors on the missing IAF #AN32 were safe. Sadly, it is now confirmed that all 13 have perished in a crash. My deepest condolences to the families of our 13 brave men in uniform. You are in my thoughts & prayers," tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi soon after the news emerged.
For over 10 days India has hoped & prayed that our 13 Air-Warriors on the missing IAF #AN32 were safe.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 13, 2019
Sadly, it is now confirmed that all 13 have perished in a crash.
My deepest condolences to the families of our 13 brave men in uniform. You are in my thoughts & prayers. https://t.co/8mPRLjKMoZ
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also termed the development as "extremely unfortunate and disheartening", and expressed his condolences for the relatives of those killed.
The An-32, a Soviet-designed twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft, dropped from the radar around 1 pm on June 3 while flying from Assam's Jorhat to Mechuka, a military landing strip in Arunachal Pradesh. Although it was only meant to be a 50-minute journey, over a week passed before the victims' relatives were alerted to the discovery of the aircraft's wreckage on a densely forested mountain. It is believed that the An-32 crashed amid bad weather and poor visibility due to clouds.
Yesterday, a team of Air Force personnel and local mountaineers scoured the site where the aircraft's debris was found. The search operation was extremely challenging because of the difficult terrain, incessant rain and lack of roads.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's condolence message referred to a pilot from the state who was also killed in the accident. "Deeply saddened by the news of our air warriors who lost their lives in #An32 crash including brave Flight Lieutenant Sunit Mohanty from #Odisha. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace," he tweeted.
Deeply saddened by the news of our air warriors who lost their lives in #An32 crash including the brave Flight Lieutenant Sunit Mohanty from #Odisha. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace.— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) June 13, 2019
An Air Force officer from Uttar Pradesh who died in the accident found mention in a tweet sent out by the Office of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. "Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath bows before the sacrifice made by the Air Force personnel who died in the An-32 crash. He also paid homage to Putali, an Air Force officer from Lucknow who has lost his life," its message in Hindi read.
The other officers who died in the accident were Wing Commander GM Charles; Squadron Leader H Vinod; Flight Lieutenants R Thapa, Ashish Tanwar and Mohit K Garg; Warrant Officer KK Mishra; Sergeant Anoop Kumar; Corporal Sherin; Leading Air Craftsman SK Singh and Pankaj; and non-combatant enrolled employee Rajesh Kumar. Ashish Tanwar's wife, Sandhya, was the Air Traffic Controller at Jorhat when the aircraft went missing on the afternoon of June 3.
Heartfelt condolences to the families of the air-warriors who lost their lives in this tragic crash.— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) June 13, 2019
I salute each one of these brave air-warriors & promise that the country will forever be grateful to them for their service.#JaiHind#AN32https://t.co/DuCQWFairR
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former Army chief-turned-Union Minister General VK Singh also expressed their condolences on social media. While Mr Vijayan expressed "deep shock" over the Air Force's announcement that there were no survivors, General VK Singh said that the country was grateful to those killed in the crash.