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IAF solves mystery of AN-32 that went missing over Bay of Bengal 8 years ago

The aircraft vanished en route from Port Blair to Chennai, prompting a large-scale search and rescue mission. A recent government statement revealed that images captured the wreckage on the sea bed, aligning with the characteristics of an An-32 aircraft.

IAF solves mystery of AN-32 that went missing over Bay of Bengal 8 years ago
First Published Jan 12, 2024, 6:01 PM IST

In a recent development, the wreckage of the Indian Air Force's An-32 aircraft, which went missing over the Bay of Bengal in 2016, has been located approximately 310 kilometres off the Chennai coast. The transport aircraft had 29 people on board, and on July 22, 2016, it vanished while en route from Port Blair to Chennai. All 29 individuals were presumed dead or missing.

As per a government press release issued on Friday, images captured the debris of a crashed aircraft on the sea bed, in close proximity to the Chennai coast. The scrutinized search images were found to align with an An-32 aircraft. The statement indicated that this discovery at the probable crash site, with no other reported missing aircraft in the area, strongly suggests the debris could belong to the crashed IAF An-32 (K-2743).

On the fateful morning of July 22, 2016, an IAF Antonov An-32 departed from the Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai, carrying 29 people, including crew members. The transport aircraft was on a routine weekly trip to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Departing from Chennai around 8 am, the plane was scheduled to land at INS Utkrosh, an Indian naval air station in Port Blair. However, shortly after takeoff, the aircraft lost all contact and disappeared from radar screens while flying over the Bay of Bengal.

The disappearance triggered the launch of India's largest search and rescue mission for a missing plane over the sea by the armed forces. Despite extensive efforts, the Indian Air Force officially declared its inability to locate the missing aircraft on September 15, 2016. In letters to the family members of the 29 individuals on board the An-32 K2743, the Air Force conveyed that it had no choice but to declare those on board as "presumed dead."

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