Hopes of tracing the missing Indian Air Force AN-32 aircraft which went missing with 29 on board on July 22, has brightened with two government ships zeroing in on possible six locations where the wreckage of the plane could be found. Sagar Nidhi, a ship belonging to Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), a unit of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, on Monday conducted search using Remotely Operable and Submersible, an equipment which can go upto to a depth of 6000 meters.
The device, which also has a camera fitted on it, went down upto 2500 meters in the Bay of Bengal, but could not go further as there was a technical snag. INCOIS has set a target of September 25-30 to finish the task. Earlier, Sagar Nidhi and Sagar Sagar Ratna, belonging to the Geological Survey of India(GSI), Ministry of Mines, did an exhaustive mapping of nearly 25,000 sq kms using multibeam echo-sound technology and acoustic waves and spotted some “high reflectivity” in the deep sea. This is an indication of the wreckage of the plane.
They zeroed down on six location where the aircraft could have possibly crashed. “On these six locations we are going to use the remotely operable and submersible which can go upto to a depth of 6000 meters. The depth at these locations is 3500 meters. We don’t know whether the plane is there or not. We have seen some high reflectivity.
“So the RO submersible has cameras. And we can see what objects are down there because the earlier search was just
with the help of acoustic waves,” said S.S.C Shenoi, Director of INCOIS said. On July 22, IAF’s AN 32 transport plane went missing with 29 people on board, including six crew members, while it was on its way from near Chennai to Port Blair, home to tri-service command.
Following this, the Air Force, Navy and the Coast Guard launched a massive search and rescue operation. Despite several attempts, there was little success in tracing the aircraft. Shenoi said whether the objects are the wreckage of the missing AN-32 can only be verified with the help of RO submersible.
“It is like we undergo ultra sound. Doctors say that there is some growth, but we don’t know whether it is benign or malignant unless you do a biopsy. With the RO submersible we can identify whether that if it belongs the plane or something else,” Shenoi said.