Itanagar: A team of 12 rescuers that retrieved the bodies of 13 people who were on board the AN-32 aircraft which crashed in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh early this month, continued to remain stranded at the crash site, waiting for the weather to improve so that they could be airlifted, a state government official said on Friday.
The rescuers are at the crash site since June 12, when they were airdropped for the search operation. Nine Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, civilian mountaineer Taka Tamut and two of his associates deputed by the Shi Yomi district administration to guide a foot trek in case the weather continued to mar the chopper service remained stranded, West Siang district Information and Public Relations Officer Gijum Tali said.
The rescuers were braving the hostile weather conditions and feeding on the ration commodities airdropped for them on the day they were taken to the crash site, he added. The team is stranded for 17 days now at a height of 12,000 feet even after the strenuous exercise of retrieving the 13 bodies and the black box of the plane.
The Russian AN-32 aircraft went missing 33 minutes after taking off from Assam's Jorhat on June 3. It was headed to Mechuka in Shi-Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh. "The weather condition is not conducive at all to lift the 12 brave men," Tali said.
A foot-march would also be dangerous in the monsoon as climbing up and down the mountains would be risky and the dense forest had venomous snakes, wild animals and insects, he added.
The weather is likely to improve by Saturday or Sunday according to a metrological forecast. However, things might turn worse if the weather played spoilsport with a limited stock of ration commodities and force the team members to trek on foot, Tali said.
The task of retrieving the 13 bodies from the crash site in the Pari mountains in Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh was completed on June 20. While six bodies were retrieved on June 19, the remaining seven were retrieved the next day.