On 22nd July an Indian military plane with 29 people on board including 6 crew members, went missing over the Bay of Bengal. More than 3 weeks and a massive search operation later, there is still no trace of the plane.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar says experts are puzzled by the sudden disappearance of the Antonov-32 transport aircraft that took off from Chennai for a 3-hour flight to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. It climbed to a cruising altitude of 23,000 ft over the sea before disappearing from air traffic control screens. A few minutes before it vanished the pilot said he was changing course to avoid a thundershower cloud. Records show it descended very fast and vanished from the radar. There was no distress call from the cockpit.
A deep sea hunt for the missing plane is ongoing and air force and coast guard planes have flown over 1000 hours covering 360 nautical miles trying to locate debris.
The missing Antonov-32 that is part of the air force’s 100 strong fleet of Ukrainian-made aircraft, is described as the workhorse of the force.
The aircraft was equipped with transmitters, but it was missing underwater locator beacons or pingers.
Still, nobody knows the fate of the plane. An air force official said they are hoping for a miracle.