Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Monday said no efforts would be spared to locate the missing transport aircraft with 29 persons on board, even as the government stepped up the search four days after the tragedy.

“Radar contact with the aircraft was lost when the aircraft was east of Chennai at an approximate distance of 270 km. Since then, there has been no contact with the aircraft,” Air Chief Marshal Raha said in a statement.He said the AN-32 aircraft was on a scheduled courier sortie from Tambaram, Chennai to Port Blair. The aircraft had departed Tambaram at 8.30 a.m. on July 22 with 6 crew and 23 personnel, the IAF chief said.

“It is very unfortunate that we have not been able to trace the missing aircraft and the personnel on board. It is a very difficult moment for all of us and we share the concerns of distraught family members,” he said.

The IAF chief said his officers were in constant touch with the family members of the missing personnel and they were being regularly updated about the efforts being made to trace them.
‘Painful reminder’

“Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave personnel face in the execution of our daily missions,” he said, adding that an inquiry would be conducted into the incident.

“Our prayers and thoughts are there with the missing personnel and their families and no effort will be spared to locate them,” he said.

Saying that the IAF remains committed to providing the best possible equipment and training to its personnel, he said AN-32 transport aircraft was inducted into the IAF between 1984 and 1991.

“In the last three decades of its operations, we have exploited the capabilities of this aircraft as the workhorse of the IAF. Because of its excellent operational performance, AN-32 has been landing at Daulat Beg Oldie, which is the highest landing ground in the world,” he said, in an effort to dispel any doubt over the aircraft and its crew.

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