A massive search and rescue operation has been launched off the Chennai coast after a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft, with three crew members on board, went missing on Monday night.
The search operation, undertaken by the Coast Guard and the Navy, involves five Coast Guard ships, four naval ships and aircraft, including the long-range maritime surveillance aircraft P8i, according to the defence ministry.
The Dornier aircraft CG- 791, which had taken off from the Coast Guard Air station on Monday evening, went off the radar at approximately 9 pm.
“The aircraft, which was deployed for surveillance along the Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay from the Coast Guard Air station Chennai last evening, failed to return to the base. The last contact with the aircraft was about 9 pm and the Trichy radar tracked the aircraft till 10.23 pm in 95 nm south of Chennai,” stated a release by the Defence Ministry.
At approximately 10.45 pm on Monday, a search operation was launched and a control room was set up for the rescue mission.
“An aircraft was launched at midnight to keep a watch on the probable missing area; ships were also deployed for the search and rescue operation,” said a Coast Guard official.
“The exact position of the aircraft, when it was last tracked, was 16 miles east of Chidambaram,” said the official.
The Dornier aircraft, inducted in 2014, was being flown by a highly experienced team, he said.
In March, a Dornier aircraft of the Navy had crashed into the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast while undertaking a routine night training sortie. Two crew members, including woman observer Lieutenant Kiran Shekhawat, were killed in the incident.