The search for the missing Dornier aircraft of Indian Coast Guard and its three crew members is being augmented with underwater search by naval submarine, reports All India Radio.
After six days of efforts to trace the missing Coast Guard Dornier aircraft, all eyes are now on the Navy submarine that started the undersea search operation for the plane.
There were reports that wreckage of the Dornier aircraft was found but Coast Guard Eastern region Inspector General Commander S P Sharma later denied the reports.
“We are awaiting communication from the submarine. At this point, we can’t come to any conclusion,” said Sharma in a statement.
The statement added that a total of eight ships and aircraft of the Coast Guard and Navy are continuing the search in the most probable area, which is off the Chidambaram coast. As on Sunday afternoon, the aircraft had flown 124 hours as part of the search operation.
"Submarine INS Sindhudhvaj arrived in the area (coastline in Karikkal-Cuddalore region) late on Saturday and commenced underwater search," a Coast Guard statement here said.
The search operations for the missing Dornier aircraft is now concentrated on the sea off the coast of Sirkazhi and Pazhayaru in Tamil Nadu. Signals received from the beacon of Dornier aircraft in that region had given real hope of finding the wreckage of the aircraft.
Tamil Nadu fisheries department advised local fishermen not to venture out for fishing in the Pazhayaru- Sirkazhi Poompuhar stretch to facilitate unhindered search operations.
INS Sindhudwaj naval submarine is concentrating on the region where signals were received. Coast Guard, Navy and Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group are coordinating the search operations through aerial, sea and subsurface means.
The Dornier aircraft left Chennai last Monday with three crew members and is missing on that night after Trichy air traffic control lost contact at 9.23 PM. The plane, the most recent aircraft to have been inducted into the Coast Guard, had taken off from the Chennai airport at around 5 pm and was headed along the coast to the Palk Bay between India and Sri Lanka.
On board were two pilots and one navigator, Deputy Commandment Vidyasagar (pilot), Commandment MK Soni (co-pilot) and Deputy Commandment Subhash Suresh (navigator), whom Ministry of Defence spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said were "highly experienced".