A day after the wreckage of the Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 carrier aircraft was traced in a remote area in Arunachal Pradesh, the bodies of all the 13 people on board were found on Thursday.
The air-warriors who lost their lives in the tragic accident crash are Wing Commander GM Charles, Squadron Leader H Vinod, Flight Lieutenant MK Garg, Flight Lieutenant S Mohanty, Flight Lieutenant A Tanwar, Flight Lieutenant R Thapa, Warrant Officer KK Mishra, Sergeant Anoop Kumar, Corporal Sherin, Leading Aircraftman SK Singh, Leading Aircraftman Pankaj, NC(E) Putali and NC(E) Rajesh Kumar.
Wing Commander GM Charles
The flight data recorder (black box) and cockpit voice recorder of AN-32 transport aircraft were also recovered from the crash area.
On June 3, the aircraft with eight aircrew and five passengers on board took off from Air Force Station at Jorhat in Assam at 12.27 pm for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground. The last contact with the aircraft was made at 12.55 pm.
Squadron Leader H Vinod
Once the aircraft did not report at the destination, overdue actions were initiated. In coordination with the Indian Army, various government and civil agencies, IAF commenced extensive search operations under the direct supervision of Head Quarters Eastern Air Command.
Flight Lieutenant S Mohanty
C-130J, AN-32, Mi-17 helicopters of IAF and ALH helicopters of Indian Army were launched immediately to locate the missing aircraft. Indian Navy P-8i aircraft joined the search operations on June 4. Resources from various agencies, including ISRO, were brought into the operation to enhance its effectiveness. CARTOSAT and RISAT satellites of ISRO also took images of the area, which assisted the search team in locating the aircraft.
Flight Lieutenant MK Garg
Thick vegetation, inhospitable terrain and inclement weather adversely affected the aerial search operation in the vast search zone. Despite the challenges posed by poor weather and terrain, IAF remained committed to the continued air and ground efforts throughout the day and night to locate the missing aircraft and its brave air-warriors. Extensive support towards rescue operation was provided by Indian Army, Indian Navy, Arunachal Pradesh government, state police and the locals.
Flight Lieutenant A Tanwar
On Tuesday, the wreckage of the aircraft was spotted 16 km north of Lipo, North East of Tato, Arunachal Pradesh at an approximate elevation of 12,000 ft by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter. Aerial operations were launched subsequently to the designated crash site however, due to the steep slope and thick forest the helicopter could not land near the crash site. Two km from the designated crash site, an area was designated and a camp was established for helicopters to land with the recovery parties.
Flight Lieutenant R Thapa
On Wednesday, a team of nine IAF personnel (including mountaineers), four Army Special Forces personnel and two local mountaineers were dropped at the campsite. On Thursday, eight members of the rescue team reached the crash site in search of the survivors. Unfortunately no air-warrior survived the crash.
Warrant Officer KK Mishra
The IAF paid tribute to the brave air-warriors who lost their lives in the line of duty and is making all efforts to recover the mortal remains. No effort is being spared in ensuring the expeditious transfer of the mortal remains of the air-warriors to their parent base at Jorhat. A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident.
Sergeant Anoop Kumar
An IAF spokesperson had said Air Marshal RD Mathur, Air officer-commanding-in-chief Eastern Air Command complimented the search team for their relentless effort spanning eight days. Mathur also thanked Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Chief Secretary Satya Gopa for extending unflinching support to the IAF towards locating the missing An-32.
Tributes poured in on social media for the brave warriors. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also to paid tribute to the air-warriors. In his tweet in Hindi, he also paid homage to Putali, one of the two non-combatants who died in the crash. "My heartfelt condolences to the air warriors of the IAF who lost their lives in the AN-32 crash and my tribute to Lucknow's Putali too...," he tweeted.
Leading Aircraftman SK Singh
The Congress said the nation will always be indebted to the valour and service of the 13 air warriors. "Our deepest condolences & tributes to the families of the brave @IAF_MCC members who lost their lives in the AN - 32 aircraft. The nation will always be indebted to their valour & service," the party tweeted.
Leading Aircraftman Pankaj
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also expressed his condolences and said the country shall remain indebted for their valiant contributions. "For over 10 days India has hoped & prayed that our 13 Air-Warriors on the missing IAF #AN32 were safe. Sadly, it is now confirmed that all 13 have perished in a crash. My deepest condolences to the families of our 13 brave men in uniform. You are in my thoughts & prayers," Rahul tweeted.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the NCP also joined in paying tribute to the victims. "Our heartfelt tributes to the 13 IAF air-warriors who lost their lives in the #AN32 crash. May their soul rest in peace," read the tweet on the AIMIM's official Twitter account.
National Spokesperson, NCP, Nawab Malik, tweeted, "In the unfortunate incident of the missing AN 32 aircraft,13 Indian Air Force personnel were martyred. Humble tribute to the brave hearts and condolences to their families. #An32 #AN32Aircraft #IAF #AirForce #Jaihind #NCP @NCPspeaks".
Various people also expressed their condolences and paid tribute to the air warriors.