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Bodies of IAF men killed in crash return
Published on 12 Jun. 2009 11:48 PM IST
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As the mortal remains of the 13 victims of the IAF aircraft AN 32 were brought to the Rowriah air base in Jorhat last evening, a pall of gloom descended when colleagues ‘’unloaded’’ the victims’ remains. These able defence personnel had been posted at one of the toughest postings and had been carrying out their duties most efficiently. None of the 13 people - seven Air Force personnel and six Army men - survived the crash in Rinchi hills of Arunachal Pradesh when the ill-fated AN 32 aircraft met its tragic end just minutes after its take-off from Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal to the air force base at Jorhat on the afternoon of June 9, reported UNI. On board was squadron leader Manas Mishra, who was on his last sortie in Jorhat, with the flight virtually turning out to be last. For aircraftsman Sanjay Kumar, who had joined at Jorhat just five days back, it was his first, while for wing commander Sajhi, it was a familiarisation trip. Sajhi was attached to the 49th squadron, but had flown with the 43th squadron only to meet his untimely death. Squadron leader Siddharth had his wife S Chandal, herself a flight lieutenant at Jorhat, expecting him back home. Chandal is six months pregnant with the couple’s first child. In the midst of this tragedy, luck favoured Army cook B Barman who was also supposed to be on board the ill-fated aircraft. Barman had completed his 15-day posting at Mechuka and was due to fly back, but his reliever could not manage to go and Barman had to stay back. As the Air Force grapples with what led to the accident, the families of the victims prepare for a life with one reason lesser to live. Investigation begins Indian Air Force started investigations into the AN-32 transport aircraft crash in Arunachal Pradesh that killed 13 defence personnel onboard, including seven IAF and six army personnel. Defence sources said a team of experts from IAF has reached Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh on the way to the crash site. Depending on the weather, the team would visit the crash site, collect the wreckage and trace the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder, a defence spokesman at the Eastern Air Command told PTI. The team may put up at Mechuka or Along for a few days as it would not be easy for them to complete investigation early due to hilly terrain and bad weather. The team would meet local villagers who had reported to the police that they saw a ball of fire in the air followed by defeaning sound on the day of the crash. Officials at Eastern Air Command here have not ruled out the possibility of a technical fault or engine failure. Scribes protest The journalists who waited for hours at Rowriah Air Base where the bodies of AN-32 crash victims were to arrive protested today against “lack of cooperation” by IAF officers to divulge information about the incident. The local scribes who gathered in large numbers at the 10th Air Force wing station at Rowriah were disappointed as the IAF officers refused to divulge any information about the arrival of bodies of the crew of the ill-fated aircraft. While the Air Officer Commanding Rowriah station G P Singh was not available over pohone, Group Captain M J Dikshit pleaded ignorance about the matter. “You are advised to contact Eastern Air Command headquarters at Shillong for information” was the reply of an officer who was cornered by the journalists at Rowriah about four kms from here. The aircraft crashed near Sino-Indian border on June 9 with 13 crew and all of whom died. Their last rites are expected to be performed today.

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