Coast Guard surveillance aircraft with three crew missing

Chennai, June 9 (IANS) An Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft with three crew members aboard has gone missing, officials said here on Tuesday.

Search and rescue operations are on to locate the aircraft, which was last tracked near Karaikal in Puducherry.

The aircraft, deployed for surveillance along Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay, took off from Chennai airport around 6 p.m. on Monday for a surveillance sortie but did not return.

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

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.

Speaking to the media, Coast Guard Inspector General S.P. Sharma said that assigning any reason for the aircraft’s disappearance would be “premature”.

He said an inquiry will be ordered.

The crew included Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar piloting the aircraft, his co-pilot and Deputy Commandant Soni and navigator/observer Subash Suresh.

“The aircraft was the latest induction in the Coast Guard inventory in 2014 and was being flown by highly experienced crew,” an official statement said.

Sharma said Coast Guard and Indian Navy ships are conducting search operations, with surveillance aircraft P8I joining in in the effort.

The fishing community along the coast also has been alerted to pass on any information regarding the missing plane that may come their way.

The latest incident comes months after a Dornier-228 of Indian Navy with three crew members went down in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Goa.

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