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IAF plane goes missing with 12 onboard

June 10, 2009 00:41 IST

A transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force carrying six IAF personnel and four army men on Tuesday went missing over the mountains in Arunachal Pradesh near the border with China and is feared to have crashed.

Official sources in Itanagar said the AN-32 cargo aircraft, on a routine food supply sortie, went missing after it left Mechuka, along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh's Along district, at around 2 pm. The plane went off the radar at 4:30 pm, IAF sources in Jorhat said.

The identity of the crew and other passengers were not disclosed but an IAF spokesman in Shillong said the air crew was led by a wing commander. Among the IAF men were two wing commanders, two sqadron leaders and one flight lieutenant on board the aircraft, IAF sources in Jorhat said.

There were 12 people in the plane -- two pilots, six IAF men and four army personnel -- who were returning to the Roroya air base at Jorhat after dropping food sorties, said the sources.

The Indian Air Force conducted an air reconnaissance in the afternoon in the Arunachal mountains, looking for either the plane or its wreckage, the IAF spokesman said in Shillong.

Not ruling out the possibility of a crash, he said the search operation would resume early on Wednesday. The army and paramilitary forces on the ground in the area have been alerted, he said.

According to the spokesman, the Russia-made aircraft took off from Mohanbari airport in Assam for Mechuka and was scheduled to return to Jorhat, but lost contact while flying over Arunachal.

A report from Guwahati said the IAF aircraft was carrying food for sorties to the Arunachal Pradesh-China border at Mechuka when it went missing.

The plane, belonging to the Jorhat air base, had taken off from Mohanbari in Assam's Dibrugarh district. Defence CPRO U Upasani in Kolkata said the search could not be carried out for long today because of bad weather.

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