New Delhi: Families of those on board Air Force’s missing AN-32 plane have been told that their relatives are “presumed dead,” sources have told. There were 29 people on the AN-32 transport plane that took off in rough monsoon weather from Chennai for Port Blair on July 22 and then disappeared a short while later without a distress signal.
“The Court of Inquiry, upon very careful scrutiny of the circumstantial evidence available and in light of extensive search and rescue operations carried out, has concluded that it is unlikely that the missing personnel on board the ill-fated aircraft would have survived the accident. It is with a feeling of profound sadness that the Court of Inquiry has recommended that your son/daughter be presumed to have been fatally injured,” read the letter from Air Force to the families of those in aircraft.
Sources say the families have been given this information to ensure that they can go ahead with insurance and other administrative formalities. However, search operation continues with Remotely Operated vessels searching the sea bed for 18 anomalies, in other words objects of interest.
In what has become India’s largest search operation at sea, 17 ships, a submarine and 23 aircraft have been hunting for the plane since it went missing. The plane did not have an underwater locator system, which has made the search difficult.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had told parliament in July that “all leads had turned out to be bad”.