The search and rescue operation for the missing AN-32 aircraft entered its fifth day today, even as hopes of finding the 29 defence personnel on board alive receded as all leads till now have turned out to be bad.
"A lot of resources are in place. All leads till now have turned out to be bad. We are trying to concentrate on some links or sound which has emitted from some area. Trying to find out, that needs to be ascertained but there were some false leads but false leads of similar type," said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
He said that a state-of-the-art ice-class research vessel, Sagar Nidhi, of the National Institute of Ocean Technology has been called for from Mauritius. "For any deep vessel to operate, it will need a specific area. Because deep vessels which go inside cannot go and search per se unless you have some definite small area. So last time (Doriner crash), submarine had identified the location and then we had sent it (deep sea vessel of Reliance). It is a secondary operation after initial identification," Parrikar said.
Sagar Nidhi comes with Dynamic Positioning System which keeps its position stable, which is required for oceanographic research.
It has a huge deck area for deploying ROV/Manned submersibles/Tsunami monitoring system. Gondola arrangement is also made for precision acoustic measurements. Drop Keel facility is made to fit any underwater transducers without dry docking the vessel. One separate lab is designed and installed with integrated survey systems with modern scientific survey equipment like single and multi beam echo sounder for shallow and deep waters, sub bottom profiler, acoustic current profiler.
Parrikar also refuted claims of a senior Coast Guard official who said that the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) had not functioned during the Dornier crash too. "I think the submarine finally located the Dornier with the same beeps. Initially sound might not have come due to the depth of water but when the submarine went in there, they identified the location. Can't say whether it is operating or not now but we have not been able to hear it," he said.
Meanwhile, sources in the Air Force said the reason of the incident is too early to be ascertained but indicated that weather could have played a role. "The weather was bad but the pilot had taken the required steps," a senior source said.