Clues from villager helped locate AN-32 wreckage in Arunachal Pradesh

The sighting of the IAF’s AN-32 transport plane by a villager before it crashed on June 3 in Arunachal Pradesh, provided vital clues for locating the wreckage of the aircraft in Siang, the district’s police chief said.

According to Kushal Pal Singh, the Superintendent of Police, Siang district, Tadum Tasum a villager from Payum had informed the authorities on June 7 that he spotted the plane flying at a very low altitude.

“He gave the general direction in which he saw the aircraft that day,” said Singh adding the aircraft has been found in that region as indicated by the villager.

Subsequently on June 9, a team of mountaineers, which included two local Everesteers Taka Tamut and Kishon Tekseng who scaled the peak in 2018, was sent to the region to look for clues.

Earlier on June 4, three villagers from Tumbin Basti had said they saw thick black smoke the day before.

“The initial search was based on their input. The wreckage has been found in the same line of sight. However, the distance that they had indicated was not correct. The subsequent input by the villager on June 7 proved more helpful as the area of search expanded,” Singh said.

The IAF statement said the wreckage of the Soviet-origin aircraft was spotted 16 km north of Lipo Village, Northeast of Tato village at an elevation of 12000 ft by a Mi-17 helicopter undertaking search in the expanded zone. According to an IAF official the wreckage was spotted between 1 pm and 2 pm.

“The two Everesteers were present in the IAF chopper today which spotted the wreckage,” said Singh.

Meanwhile, even as the wreckage has been spotted, rescue efforts may prove to be difficult because of high altitude mountains of the Pari-Adi mountain range and dense forests, according to officials.

An IAF spokesperson said mountaineering teams of IAF, Army and civilians will be deployed by choppers on Wednesday “to look for survivors and other things.”

The two Everesteers will be part of the joint mountaineering teams.

According to Singh, the site of the crash is at least a two-day walk from the nearest habitation. “In a meeting today it was decided that the IAF will look for a suitable place near the crash site to deploy the rescue teams,” Singh said.

Authorities had already deployed army troopers, police and paramilitary personnel, local villagers and hunters in the search operations after the aircraft went missing eight days ago. The hunters have not yet returned from their search operations.

First Published:
Jun 11, 2019 21:21 IST

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