UPDATE: Suryalanka Air Force Station in Guntur received an anonymous phone call on Saturday evening that a loud explosion was heard in the Narsipatnam forest on the day AN-32 went missing. Indian Air Force and the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department have launched a joint search for the missing aircraft. Narsipatnam forest is 800 KMs off the course the flight was supposed to take, yet the forest and it’s nearby villages are being surveyed. “As of now, no villagers have revealed that they witnessed any crash. However, some forest officials are still there to find out if any person has any clue about the aircraft,” G Shekhar Babu, Divisional Forest Officer, told Indian Express. 10 forest officials have been deployed to join the search.
An Indian Air Force flight, AN-32, went missing with 29 military personnel and civilians on board. The Russian-made aircraft that went missing yesterday morning, was on its way to Port Blair to carry out repair works on the Close Range Naval weapon, CRN-91. Eight of the missing personnel are from Vizag, and were deputed for a 15 day period. The technicians missing from Vizag include Sambamurthy – a NAD chargeman, Prasad Babu, Nagendra Rao, Senapati, Maharana and Chinna Rao – armament fitters and Srinivas Rao – a multi-tasking employee. After starting from Vizag on July 20, they reached Chennai the next day. The flight that took off from Chennai subsequently went missing. There are chances that the aircraft plunged from an altitude of 23,000 feet. The plane fell off radar at 9.12 AM yesterday, approximately 300 KM east of Chennai. “These aircraft are very strong, they are used as supply planes for mountains and deserts,” retired Air Force officer Praful Bakshi told NDTV.
The Eastern Naval Command had deployed two P8i Long Range Maritime Patrol aircrafts, two Dornier aircrafts and twelve ships carrying integral helicopters to search for the missing aircraft. Four ships that the Eastern Naval Command previously deployed on different missions and eight ships of the Eastern Fleet returning from South China Sea have been diverted to join the search operations. The aircraft has an emergency beacon locator that is activated in case of a crash. A Navy submarine has been deployed in search of the same.
*This article has been updated after publication (3.07PM, August 1st, 2016)
*This article has been edited after publication (1:57 PM, July 23rd, 2016)