New Delhi/Itanagar, June 13 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday said all the 13 occupants of the An-32 aircraft that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3 were dead and no effort was being spared in ensuring expeditious transfer of their mortal remains to their parent base at Assam’s Jorhat.
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident, the IAF said.
The personnel who lost their lives in the tragic crash were identified as Wing Commander G.M. Charles, Squadron Leader H. Vinod, Flight Lieutenant M.K. Garg, Flight Lieutenant S. Mohanty, Flight Lieutenant A. Tanwar, Flight Lieutenant R. Thapa, Warrant Officer K.K. Mishra, Sergeant Anoop Kumar, Corporal Sharin, Leading Aircraftman S.K. Singh, Leading Aircraftman Pankaj, NC(E) Putali and NC(E) Rajesh Kumar.
On Tuesday the wreckage of the aircraft was spotted 16 kms north of Lipo in Arunachal’s West Siang district at an approximate elevation of 12,000 ft by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter.
According to the statement, two km from the crash site, an area was designated and a camp was established for helicopters to land with the recovery parties.
On Wednesday, a team of nine IAF personnel (including mountaineers), four Army Special Forces personnel and two local mountaineers were dropped at the campsite.
The bodies of the crash victims were found to be dismembered, state government official Gijum Tali told IANS
Seven bodies have been recovered so far, he added.
IAF spokesperson, Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of accident.
“It is not known if the black box and the cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft were recovered from crash site,” he said.
“IAF pays tribute to the brave air warriors who lost their life in the line of duty. IAF is making all efforts to recover the mortal remains. No effort is being spared in ensuring expeditious transfer of the mortal remains of the air-warriors to their parent base at Jorhat air base,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh Governor, Brig B.D. Mishra (retd.) and Chief Minister Pema Khandu has conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members.
The An-32 took off on June 3 from the Jorhat airbase for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal’s Shi-Yomi district bordering China, but lost contact with the ground agencies within 35 minutes.
After the disappearance of the aircraft, the IAF commenced extensive search operations under the direct supervision of the Eastern Air Command HQ at Shillong.
The C-130J and AN-32 planes and Mi-17 helicopters of the IAF and ALH helicopters of the Army were launched immediately to locate the missing aircraft. Indian Navy P-8I aircraft joined the search operations on June 4.
Resources from various agencies, including the ISRO, were brought into the operation to enhance its effectiveness. CARTOSAT and RISAT satellites of the Indian space agency also took images of the area, which assisted the search team in locating the aircraft.
Extensive support towards the rescue operation was also provided by the state government and police and the local population. On June 8, the IAF announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information leading to the location of the missing aircraft.