M A I N   N E W S

MiG-29 crash site located in HP, no trace of pilot
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 27
Eight days of gruelling search operation and 149 sorties later, the IAF has managed to locate the site in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul Valley where the ill-fated MiG-29 fighter aircraft had crashed on October 19. The fate of the pilot, however, is still unknown.

The Task Force Commander, Group Captain PK Sharma, who is coordinating the search operation, confirmed locating the crash site at 15,000 ft above Chokhang village in Lahaul.

He said several components of the aircraft have been recovered after digging under the snow. These are being brought down to the base camp for proper identification.

An IAF helicopter had dropped eight expert mountaineers, including three from the Army, on a ledge where they spent the night with just the basic survival gear. The same site was also spotted by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) earlier in a photo reconnaissance mission. But it could not be conclusively established since the ill-fated plane had disintegrated into small pieces and the debris was spread across the slopes on either side of a ridge, said an official release.

“The crash site could not be confirmed as the area came under fresh snowfall. Also, soot and burn marks along the slopes as seen in our recce imagery as well as by villagers, also disappeared under the snow,” the release added.

A base camp was set up at 13,000 ft on a ledge to provide support to the search party and 55 personnel, including expert mountaineers from the IAF and the Army, were involved in the search.

The team was under threat from wild animals since fresh snow had claw marks of animals - suspected to be of bears in the area. Also, the site had accumulated ice with crevices that were covered under fresh snow, making the progress even slower.

The Task Force Commander praised the missionary zeal displayed by Wg Cdr SK Kutty and Sqn Ldr N Rawat who headed the search teams.

The aircraft had taken off from Adampur base in Jalandhar district for a night-flying exercise when it crashed into the mountain. Earlier, some pieces of the aircraft were recovered from Gangstang Glacier. Some villagers of Thirot, located 40 km from Keylong town, had spotted some burnt pieces of the plane in Chokhang hills and brought three such pieces, which, the IAF said, matched with that of the MiG 29.





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