Fifteen probable points, where the debris of the Indian Air Force transport aircraft AN32 that went missing with 29 crew members aboard on July 22, might have been left, have been located by the Geological Survey of India’s research vessel Samudra Ratnakar along with the National Institute of Technology vessel Sagar Nidhi, according to the Coast Guard Commander Inspector-General Rajan Bargotra.
Speaking at a session of the regional editor’s conference organised by the Press Information Bureau here, Bargotra said that the vessels had identified 150 probable locations which had variables in depth using multi-beam echo sounder and side scan sonar.
Of the 150 probable locations, 15 locations have been zeroed in on and these are the most probable last known positions of the aircraft where it would have gone down.
Bargotra said they would now be operating the Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) which is available with NIOT.
“The vessel will go up to 3,400 metres and click pictures to ascertain whether the debris of the aircraft is located there,” he said.
He said that NIOT’s research vessel Sagar Nidhi was getting ready and most probably the ROV would be deployed on September 8.
Currently, the search operation has lasted for 39 days and 10 to 11 air sorties are still being conducted, said Bargotra at the regional editor’s conference.
The biggest handicap to the search operation is that neither the emergency locator transmitter nor the sonar locating beacon (SLB) is functional. Both research vessels have scanned more than 20,000 sq. km of the sea to search the aircraft.