Missing aircraft's wreckage recovered, no news of crew yet

Chennai: A large part of the wreckage of a missing Indian Coast Guard aircraft was recovered from the Bay of Bengal but there was no sign of its three crew members, the defence ministry said on Monday.

More than a month after it went missing on June 8, the aircraft's wreckage was found at a depth of 990 metres 17 nautical miles southeast of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, the ministry said in a statement issued here.

"Thirty-three days after the ICG aircraft went missing, its wreckage was found at the depth of 990 metres in position 17 NM S/E off Cuddolore, which included the flight data recorder, two engines, propellers, tail and tail cone, air frame parts, maevest, the single line replacement unit, parts of the fuselage, part of the landing gear and the cockpit voice recorder by the Reliance Vessel Olympic Canyon. The debris have been recovered from the sea bed by the vessel," the statement said.

Meanwhile, there is no news of the front portion of the aircraft, including the cockpit, and the search for it continues.

The Dornier aircraft with deputy commandant Vidyasagar (pilot), deputy commandant Subash Suresh (co-pilot) and navigator/observer M.K. Soni went missing on the night of June 8 while returning to its base at Chennai airport after a surveillance sortie along the Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay.

Stating that there was no information on the missing crew, a senior official said chances of their survival, if any, would be "slim".

An official statement said the last contact with the aircraft was made at 9 p.m. on June 8.

The last known location of the aircraft as per Trichy radar was off Karaikal in Puducherry, where it was tracked till 9.23 p.m., 95 nautical miles south of Chennai.

Coast Guard officials said the flight data recorder of the aircraft is at present at Meenambakkam Air Station, Chennai, and it would be sent to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for decoding.

Officials said the data currently available was not sufficient to say why the plane crashed.

A statement from defence ministry said a major challenge in underwater search was the steep gradient of the seabed in the search area.

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