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No trace of missing IAF AN-32 even after 24 hrs, Navy's P8i plane joins search ops

Itanagar/New Delhi: A long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft of Indian Navy was deployed on Tuesday as part of a massive search operation to trace an AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, a day after it went missing around thickly-forested Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh, officials said.

The Russian-origin transport aircraft, with 13 people on board, went missing Monday afternoon around 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Menchuka near the border with China.

Navy Spokesperson Capt. D K Sharma Sharma said the P8i aircraft took off from INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu's Arakonam around 1 PM to join the search and rescue operation to trace the missing AN-32.

Already a fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and choppers were deployed to locate the missing Antonov AN-32 aircraft in the mountainous terrain in and around Menchuka, officials said.

They said ground troops have also been deployed to carry out a search operation.

Capt. Sharma said the P8i aircraft will carry out search operation with electro-optical and Infra-Red sensors.

The IAF on Monday said the aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm for the Menchuka advance landing ground in Shi-Yomi district in Arunachal Pradesh, and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm.

"Some ground reports were received on the possible location of a crash site. Helicopters were routed to the location, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far," the IAF said in a statement on Monday.

It said a total of eight aircrew and five passengers were on board the aircraft and that the IAF is coordinating with Indian Army as well as various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft.

The IAF has deployed C-130J and AN-32 aircraft besides two Mi-17 choppers while the Indian Army has pressed into service advance light helicopters to locate the missing Antonov AN-32 aircraft.

The AN-32 is a Russian origin aircraft and the IAF currently operates a sizeable number of it. It is a twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft.

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