The families of those on board a missing AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force have been informed that their relatives are “presumed dead”. Multiple aircraft and ships of the IAF, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard were scouring the waters in an area some 150 nautical miles east of Chennai, the last known location of the aircraft, braving high winds and choppy monsoon seas. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was personally monitoring the situation and the search and rescue teams failed to obtain any leads. Families of the victims had repeatedly been contacting IAF officials hoping to get some information on the outcome of the searches.
An IAF source said the families have been given the information so that they can go ahead with insurance and other administrative formalities. The letter came annexed with a certificate of presumption of death. “The search for missing AN32 is still in progress,” defence sources said. The plane did not have an underwater locator system, which has made the search difficult. “No fewer than 201 search and rescue sorties, using all suitable aircraft at our disposal were undertaken. Approximately 2,17,800 square nautical miles (Sq Nm) have been covered multiple times by these aircraft,” the letter stated. “International emergency response teams and satellites from USA also did not help in getting any concrete information about the missing aircraft,” it added.