New Delhi, July 24 – The government on Sunday assured the families of service personnel who were aboard the missing AN-32 aircraft that it stands by them in this difficult hour.
The assurance came as the search for the plane, that went missing on Friday morning en route to Port Blair from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai, was intensified over an extended area on Sunday.
The family members of all personnel on board were approached by their respective services and assured that at this hour of uncertainty they are not alone and the government has mobilised all possible assets in one of the largest operations of its kind, a Defence Ministry statement said here.
It said a marginal weather improvement on Sunday allowed for the deployment of additional assets and intensification of the search in a larger area.
The Indian ocean, however, continued to be rough, thus making the conditions challenging, it said.
A total of 12 Indian Navy ships and four Indian Coast Guard ships along with 17 aircraft from the Indian Air Force, the Navy and Indian Coast Guard have been mobilised for this operation, the statement said.
The missing AN-32 aircraft belonging to 33 Squadron took off from in Chennai at 8.30 a.m. on Friday and was expected to land at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 11.30 a.m.
The recorded transcript of the Chennai air traffic radar showed the last pick-up of the aircraft was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai when it was observed to have taken a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.