28 July, New Delhi
No concrete evidence on the missing AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has emerged so far after a week of search, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Parliament on Thursday.
The Minister, in identical statements in both houses, said that based on inputs, areas of “three oil slicks, five transmission intercepts and 24 floating objects have been thoroughly investigated by ships and aircraft, without any concrete evidence emerging with respect to the missing IAF AN-32, till date”.
In the Rajya Sabha, following delays from members, the minister also said he will give clarifications on the statement on Friday.
“The 22 floating objects recovered have been determined to be not related to the missing aircraft,” Parrikar said in the statement.
He said naval submarines are also searching the designated area and search efforts are focused on the “surface as well as underwater domain” to look for “survivors and debris”.
The plane with 29 people on board, including six crew, went missing shortly after taking off from Chennai for Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on July 22.
Those on board included six crew members, 15 personnel from the IAF, army, navy and Coast Guard, and eight civilians who were family members of the personnel.
The recorded transcript of air traffic radar showed the last pick-up of the aircraft was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai when it took a left turn, with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.
Parrikar said the ongoing search is also being supplemented by the use of Indian satellites, such as Cartosat 2A and 2B, which can cover swathes as big as 22×27 km and have resolutions of 0.8 km.
“The area is being frequently imaged by the satellites. Several inputs and leads on floating objects and possible transmission have been picked up from satellite imagery and air surveillance efforts. Each of these have been thoroughly investigated by ships and aircraft,” Parrikar said.
“However, no concrete evidence with respect to AN-32 has emerged so far,” the minister said.