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Missing aircraft’s wreckage found, whereabouts of crew remain unknown

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

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.

(With inputs from IANS)

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India and Japan to recreate 1999 scenario of Japanese hijacked ship

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Chennai:  The Indian and Japan coast guards would recreate the freeing in 1999 of a Japanese hijacked ship by Indian personnel, on the day of the Pongal festival on January 15, officials said on Sunday.

Though the vessel that was hijacked was different from the one that will be participating in the exercise named “Sahyog-Kaijin-XV”, it will be a sort of recreation of what happened in 1999, an official said.

According to a statement issued by the Indian Coast Guard, the association between the coastal security forces of the two nations dates back to 1999, when for the first time in maritime history a pirated ship was freed.

Japanese flagged ship MV Alondra Rainbow was hijacked by pirates off Indonesia and was repainted and renamed MV Mega Rama.

The vessel was sighted off Kochi, and freed by the Indian Coast Guard in the Arabian Sea after a hot chase.

The Indian Coast Guard said the joint exercise will be held in the Bay of Bengal off Chennai which would help in strengthening the working-level relationship between the two coastal security forces and refine joint operating procedures.

Japan coast guard ship Echigo will be visiting here during January 11-16.

According to the Indian Coast Guard, the highlight of the exercise would be the scenario of the hijacking of a merchant vessel and its subsequent rescue in a combined operation.

Helicopters of the Indian Coast Guard will be operated from the Japanese ship and vice versa, while there will also be cross-deck landing, interdiction of the pirate vessel, cross-boarding, steam-past and external firefighting.

(Inputs from IANS)

(Picture Courtesy: www.newsx.com)

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Missing Dornier: Coast Guard aircraft found, black box recovered

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Chennai: A Coast Guard Dornier aircraft, missing for over a month now, has been found on the sea bed off the Tamil Nadu coast and its flight data recorder recovered, an official said on Friday. There is no information about its three crew members though family members were still hopeful.

“The Dornier aircraft has been found in the sea at a depth of 900 metres off Chidambaram. There is no information about the crew members,” Coast Guard Commander East Region, Inspector General Satya Prakash Sharma told IANS.

The Dornier aircraft with pilot, Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar, co-pilot, Deputy Commandant Subash Suresh and navigator/observer M.K. Soni went missing on the night of June 8 while returning to the base after a regular surveillance sortie along the Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay.

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The announcement sparked some hope among the family of the missing crew members. Padma Suresh, mother of co-pilot Subhash Suresh, told IANS that they had heard that the black box or data recorder of the missing flight had been recovered but there was no information about the crew.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed… we are praying,” she said in a shaky voice.

According to a Coast Guard release, Indian navy submarine Sindhudhavaj, deployed in the search mission, had picked up transmissions at a depth of 996 meters on July 6, thus enabling Reliance Industries’ multifunctional support vessel Olympic Canyon, which also pressed into the operation, to localize the search.

The Olympic Canyon’s integrated remotely operated vehicle was able to locate and recover the missing aircraft’s flight data recorder (FDR) and one line replacement unit from a depth of 950 metres in “a unique and first ever salvage at such depths”, it said.
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The FDR could provide vital inputs towards establishing the cause of the incident, said the Coast Guard, terming it a major accomplishment to the search operation which was launched soon after the Dornier went missing and has included 693 hours of surface effort and 196 hours of air effort. (IANS)

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Indian Coast Guard intercepts suspicious Iranian boat in high seas of Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian Coast Guard intercepted a suspicious Iranian boat in the high seas of Kerala early Sunday, escorted it to a berth near the famed Kovalam beach, and handed it over to police, an official statement said.

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A Coast Guard press release issued here Sunday said that on Friday, the state police had informed them about movement of a suspicious fishing trawler, likely to be involved in transfer of high value contraband on the high seas, about 100 kms west of Alleppey.

On receipt of the information, a Dornier aircraft was deployed on surveillance sorties, while ships Samar and Abhinav also sailed from Kochi at maximum speed to carry out effective surveillance and interdict the suspect entity.

The aircraft, after prolonged area surveillance in rough weather conditions, sighted one suspicious contact around Saturday midnight and the ships shadowed the vessel “Barooki” , remaining out of visual range to avoid detection.

Before the break of dawn, a Coast Guard team of ICGS Samar boarded the suspected vessel and took control of it and its 12 crew members. A search resulted in seizure of a Thuraya satellite communication set and a Pakistani identity card.

The boat, which had sailed from Iran on May 25, was then escorted to Vizhinjam harbour and it and its crew handed over to Kerala Police who have started a joint interrogation along with central agencies. (IANS)