India launches massive search operation for missing military plane

  • 22 July 2016
  • From the section India
File photo of An-32 Image copyright Indian Air Force
Image caption The Indian air force operates more than 100 Antonov-32 aircraft

An Indian military plane with more than 20 people on board has gone missing over the Bay of Bengal, the Indian air force (IAF) has confirmed to the BBC.

The Antonov-32 transporter aircraft took off from Chennai (Madras) at 08:30 local time (03:00 GMT), bound for Port Blair in the eastern archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar.

It was scheduled to land at 11:30.

Four aircraft, 12 ships and a submarine have been deployed to search for the plane, the ministry of defence said.

The IAF operates more than 100 Antonov-32 aircraft.

Are India's aging air force planes falling out of the sky?

The Indian Air Force has a relatively poor safety record and the Russian-made aircraft which form the backbone of the Indian fleet have been the most accident-prone.

A navy spokesman told the Reuters news agency that surveillance planes and ships were looking for the missing aircraft, which was carrying service personnel to strategic islands near the Malacca Straits, where India has a military base.

India's ministry of defence initially deployed two aeroplanes and four ships to look for the missing aircraft.

Eight more warships and a submarine have now joined the search.

Image copyright @Indiannavy

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