Agartala: A US team from the Joint Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) would excavate in Tripura to collect remains of soldiers and a US military aircraft that crashed during World War II, an official said Saturday.
"Six officials of the American government and JPAC have conducted a preliminary survey for two days (Thursday and Friday) at Dhumachara tribal village (in mountainous Longtharai Valley under Dhalai district) in northern Tripura," a Tripura home department official said.
An official who accompanied the team said two propellers of the crashed US military aircraft were found in the Kalapahar hills of in Dhumachara village, concealed beneath stones and soil.
Tribal villagers said remains of soldiers too were long protected, but had been washed away in rain some years ago.
An official said that the JPAC team had informed Tripura Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar Panda that an international agency would start excavation in November to collect the propellers of the crashed aircraft and its fragments, as also the remains of the soldiers` bodies, if any.
A senior Tripura police officer said that an American citizen, David Campbell, had survived the crash, but subsequently died.
Campbell`s younger brother, Tony Campbell, later learnt about the crash and his brother`s death from American army records and other sources and visited Tripura in the mid-1990s when insurgency was at its height in the northeastern state. He could not, at the time, visit the villages in north Tripura because of security concerns.
"After returning to America, Campbell took up the issue with the US government, which subsequently raised it with the Indian government," a police official said.
Some fragments of the aircraft had been recovered in northern Tripura`s Longtharai Valley last January, 66 years after it crashed.
An officer of the paramilitary Assam Rifles had told reporters earlier that some remnants of the C-47B aircraft were recovered by troopers of the 34th Battalion.
"A series of search operations had been launched since September last year to find out the crash site in the thick and dense forests of all three hill ridges of northern Tripura - Baramura, Atharamura and Longtharai. Finally, our troopers achieved success in the first week of January," the officer said.