12 - 12 - 2019

AN-32: 13 bodies, black box found

New Delhi, June 14 ( Agencies):Bodies of all 13 Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel on board the ill-fated AN-32 transport aircraft were retrieved on Thursday from the crash site in Arunachal Pradesh, IAF said.

The black box of the plane was also recovered by a team of mountaineers that sent to the site early this morning, it said.

A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident, the IAF said.

The Air Force had confirmed Thursday morning that there were no survivors from the crash. A 15-member rescue team, mountaineers and special forces recovered the bodies from the densely forested mountainside where the aircraft crashed.

Helicopters would be used to ferry the bodies from the area. The team comprised eight mountaineers.

The 13 IAF personnel have been identified as W/C GM Charles, S/L H Vinod, F/L R Thapa, F/L A Tanwar, F/L S Mohanty, F/L MK Garg, WO KK Mishra, Sgt Anoop Kumar, Cpl Sherin, LAC SK Singh, LAC Pankaj, NC(E) Putali & NC(E) Rajesh Kumar.

The AN 32 plane, is a Soviet-designed twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft. 

It had gone missing around 1 pm on June 3 while flying from Assam’s Jorhat to Mechuka, a military landing strip in Arunachal Pradesh. It was meant to be a 50-minute journey. 

The wreckage was found on Tuesday in the mountains at a height of around 12,000 feet. It was apparent that the An-32 had crashed into a mountain amid bad weather and poor visibility because of clouds.

On Wednesday, Air Force sources had said that the view of the pilots could have been obscured by clouds causing the crash.

For a week, relatives of the 13 personnel were positioned at a Jorhat base camp as they waited for news. The search operation was hampered because of the terrain, incessant rain and lack of roads.

As the news broke out on Thursday that all the IAF personnel onboard the AN-32 aircraft lost their lives, grief struck the family of Flight Lieutenant Ashish Tanwar.

Ashish’s family members have blamed the government for the AN-32 crash. Lamenting the cuts in defence expenditure, the family alleged that out of the sum channelized for defence expenditure, most of it is spent on bureaucrats.  

“The number of soldiers who lose their lives due to faulty equipment is far larger than those who get martyred on the border or in wars,” the IAF officer’s uncle told ANI.