- Indian Air Force AN-32 aircraft missing with 29 on board
- Search operations fail to locate missing aircraft
- Manohar Parrikar was briefed on the search and rescue operations
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who arrived in Chennai on Saturday morning to take stock of the situation, undertook a two-hour aerial survey with as many as 18 navy and coast guard ships including a submarine, and eight aircraft like P 81, C 130 and Dorniers pressed into search operations.
The Russian-made workhorse of the IAF went missing on Friday soon after taking off from Tambaram air base for Port Blair, a distance of 1,400 km. It made the last radio contact at 8:46 am, 16 minutes after take-off.
Worries mounted for the authorities as time was running out and no positive signals emerged from the operations which were launched soon after the news of the missing aircraft trickled in yesterday morning.
Personally monitoring the operation, Mr Parrikar reviewed the utilisation of assets and resources to find the plane even as he instructed that more resources could be diverted for the purpose if necessary, defence sources said.
He was brief about the difficult conditions under which operations were being carried out during the last 24 hours.
The sea is very rough and there is thick cloud cover in the area, sources said, adding he has directed all Commanders to be in touch with families and provide them information that may be required, they said.
Mr Parrikar was briefed by the Air Force and the Navy in Tambaram, near Chennai. He then boarded a P-81 aircraft from Arakkonam Naval base to monitor search and rescue operations being conducted in the Bay of Bengal.
The Defence Minister was accompanied by senior IAF officials including Chief of Air Staff Arup Raha, before being briefed at the Naval Air station at Arakkonam, located around 50 km from Chennai.
The 29 people on board the Air Force's workhorse for a long period included six crew members, two of them pilots and one navigator.
Besides, there were 11 personnel from the IAF including a lady officer, two from the Army, one from the Coast Guard and 9 from the navy which included some from its armament depot.