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Intensive search operations on to locate missing CG aircraft


Chennai: Helicopters and ships of the Indian Coast Guard and Navy are undertaking intensive search operations off Chidambaram coast in Tamil Nadu and northwards to locate the three-member crew onboard a Dornier aircraft which went missing last night, a top official said today.

The flight CG-791 lost contact 16 miles off Chidambaram last night and eight ships — four each belonging to Coast Guard and Navy — are involved in search operations upto 180 nautical miles in the northerly direction, Inspector General SP Sharma, Commander, Coast Guard (East), told reporters here.

Choppers have also been pressed into service, he said.

The Pilot, Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar, Co-pilot Deputy Commandant MK Soni and Navigator Deputy Commandant Subash Suresh who are onboard the missing Dornier Coast Guard are all “highly qualified” and “well-trained,” he said.

The Coast Guard was in touch with the families of the crew who are showing ‘resilience,’ he said adding officials were confident of locating the personnel and the aircraft as early as possible.

Soon after receiving information, another Dornier aircraft was immediately pressed into service to locate the missing aircraft, Sharma said, adding all efforts were being made in this regard.

“Sea and wind currents are moving from south to north direction… We are confident of finding the missing aircraft,” he said.

The flight was undertaking a night sortie as part of the Coast Guard’s regular surveillance which looks “for suspicious activities,” in the seas when it lost contact at 9.23 pm last night, he said.

The aircraft, inducted only last year, lost contact with the Coast Guard radar, the airports in Chennai and Tiruchirappalli and finally at around 11.45 the Air Traffic Control raised an ‘overdue’ alarm, after the flight had exhausted its endurance capabilities, he added.

When asked whether an inquiry would be ordered, Sharma said this could take place after the search and rescue operations were completed.

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