Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said that search operations for Indian Air Force's (IAF) missing aircraft AN-32 that disappeared off the radar recently on 22 July may have produced results as some objects, possibly from the missing IAF AN-32, have been located and ships carrying out search operations have been directed to trace them out and do a check.
While speaking at a press conference in Rameswaram, Parrikar said: "There is no confirmed report, but there are some objects located. The ships have been asked to verify them. Unless something is positively located, it cannot be confirmed. As of now, it is only an indicator. We are not leaving anything to chances. So, we have asked the ships to check up."
The defence minister's statement comes after the ministry set up a joint search operation of the IAF, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. The search operations carried out after the mysterious disappearance of the plane till now have not provided any fruitful result and have been cause of much disappointment and concern. No debris or survivors have been found yet.
The search operation continued for the sixth day on Wednesday in the Bay of Bengal between Chennai and Port Blair. According to Coast Guard officials, an international safety network has been activated by the ministry. This network will alert merchant ships that pass by the zone where search operations are active so that they also participate in the lookout for survivors or debris of the aircraft.
A formal police complaint has been filed at the Selaiyur Police Station in Chennai by the IAF over the disappearance of the aircraft, as per protocol. The Andaman and Nicobar Command of the defence forces is on a strict vigil even beyond the search zone.
The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) RISAT satellite is providing satellite imagery of the search area through its radar imaging apparatus for any trace of the missing twin engine aircraft. This is the largest ever search operation that India has ever carried out over maritime areas. As many as 17 naval and Coast vessels are carrying out day-and-night search and rescue operations over the search zone while several military aircraft are regularly conducting sorties as part of the lookout operation.