Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar admitted that the search teams looking for the missing Indian Air Force aircraft AN-32 have found a floating object in the Bay of Bengal, although he couldn't confirm whether or not it belonged to AN-32.
"Some floating objects have been found, but it is yet to be ascertained if they are of the AN-32 aircraft," Parrikar was quoted by India Today as saying, adding that they would do everything they can to locate the missing aircraft and that no compromises will be made in searching for it.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Parrikar had said they have 4-5 leads and are investigating them further.
During Question Hour, Parrikar was asked about the status of the plane. "There are 4-5 small leads and attempts are being made to verify them," he said, adding, however, that there has been no confirmed finding yet.
The India Today copy said efforts are being intensified as the search moves into the sixth day. The search area has been also expanded to look beyond the initial zone. "13 Naval vessels, 2 Coast Guard ships besides assets from Andaman and Nicobar islands are engaged in the operations," Coast Guard Commander (East) Inspector General Rajan Bargotra was quoted as saying in the India Today report.
The Russian-made workhorse of the IAF went missing on 22 July, soon after taking off from Tambaram air base in Chennai for Port Blair, a distance of 1,400 km. It made the last radio contact at 8:46 am, 16 minutes after take off.
Worries mounted for the authorities as time was running out and no positive signals emerged from the operations which were launched soon after the news of the missing aircraft trickled in Friday morning.
There were 29 people on board the aircraft, including six crew members, two of them pilots and one navigator. Besides, there were 11 personnel from the IAF including a lady officer, two from the army, one from the Coast Guard and nine from the navy, which included some from its armament depot.
Updated Date: Jul 27, 2016 16:57:43 IST