missing on Friday on a flight to a remote island chain in the Bay of
Bengal, the defense ministry said.
Russian-made AN-32 was on its way to Port Blair, the capital of India’s
Andaman and Nicobar chain of islands, from the southeast city of
Chennai when it disappeared from radar.
were 21 military personnel on board including six crew. The other
people on board were civilians, some of them family members of soldiers
deployed on the islands.
was a routine courier mission to Port Blair, the plane was airborne at
8:30 a.m. and due to land at 11:30,” air force spokesman Wing Commander
Anupam Banerjee said.
India has been beefing up its military presence in the Andamans in recent years.
islands are near the Malacca Straits, one of the world’s busiest
shipping lanes which link the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and
defense ministry said four surveillance planes, 12 ships and a
submarine were searching for the aircraft in one of India’s largest
search and rescue operations in recent years.
plane went missing about 300 km (186 mile) east of Chennai, the
ministry said in a statement. The Andamans are about 750 nautical miles
from mainland India.
defense ministry said the submarine had been deployed to locate
transmissions from an emergency locator beacon on the AN-32 aircraft.
The plane is a workhorse of the air force, chosen for its ability to
operate from short runways.