In what may be termed as a major breakthrough in the search operation for the missing IAF aircraft AN-32, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said some objects have been located, adding the ships have been asked to check the same.
“There is no confirmed report, but there are some objects located. The ships have been asked to verify them. Unless something is positively located, it cannot be confirmed. As of now, it is only an indicator. We are not leaving anything to chances. So, we have asked the ships to check up,” Parrikar told the media.
This comes even as the joint search operation by the Indian Air Force (IAF), Navy and the Coast Guard drew an absolute blank, even almost a week after the mysterious disappearance of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, the coordinated search for AN-32 continued for the sixth day today in the extended area of the Bay of Bengal between Chennai and Port Blair. Parrikar yesterday said a lot of resources have been deployed to work to locate the missing aircraft and added that his ministry is trying its best to find out the leads.
A top Coast Guard official earlier said that no debris or survivors have been located yet. An international safety network has been activated to alert the merchant ships passing by the zone of search operation to look out for any survivors or the debris.
The Andaman and Nicobar Command of the defence forces are keeping a watch for it even beyond the search zone. As part of the procedure, a formal complaint about the missing aircraft has been registered with the Selaiyur Police Station in Chennai by the IAF authorities.
India’s largest ever search operation over the sea to trace the missing twin-engined aircraft is getting imageries of the search area from the ISRO through its radar imaging satellite RISAT.
The Indian Mission Control Centre of the space agency responsible for Satellite Aided Search and Rescue in the region is supplementing the operation by offering its services.
Seventeen naval and Coast Guard ships are mounting day-and-night watch and various military aircraft have made 28 sorties over the search zone till Sunday evening. However, no clues on the whereabouts of the aircraft are yet known.