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Search begins to trace missing IAF plane

June 10, 2009 11:47 IST

The Indian Air Force began aerial reconnaissance on Wednesday to trace the transport aircraft with 13 persons on board that went missing over the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh and was feared to have crashed.

The AN-32 transport aircraft, was on a routine air maintenance sortie and was carrying 13 personnel, including seven IAF personnel and six army jawans when it went missing on Tuesday evening, an IAF spokesman said. IAF helicopters were scouting the Mechuka-Jorhat route, where the aircraft went missing. The plane had taken off from the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh to Jorhat in Assam at around 2 pm after which it went missing. It was to reach Jorhat at around 3.30 pm but it did not respond to the air traffic control, the spokesman said, adding that the aircraft was properly maintained and had no defects. The plane, belonging to Jorhat air base, had started its sortie from Mohanbari in Upper Assam's Dibrugarh district and had carried essential commodities to the army base near Mecheka.

The Indian Air Force conducted an air reconnaissance on Tuesday in the Arunachal hills but could not locate the plane, the spokesman said. The spokesman did not rule out the possibility of acrash. He refused to disclose the identity of the crew and other passengers but said the crew was led by a WingCommander. Sources in the Eastern Air Command said the crew comprised some senior officials, including squadron leaders.

A report from Itanagar said a police search team has proceeded to Pale Hill, some 60-70 km from Mechuka, in search of the missing aircraft. The area is located between Manigaon and Tato and is close to the Sino-Indo border, according to Director General of Police, Ajay Chaddha.

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