Wreckage of IAF aircraft found after 51 years on Lahaul-Spiti glacier

The wreckage of an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft that had gone missing 51 years ago has been found on Dhaka glacier in Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The aircraft — AN-12 BL-534 — carrying about 100 defence personnel had gone missing over Rohtang Pass on February 7, 1968.

This is not the first time that wreckage of the plane or mortal remains of the personnel on board have been found. However, this time, major portions — including aero engine, fuselage, electric circuits, propeller, fuel tank unit, air brake assembly and a cockpit door — of the plane have been found.

In 2003, members of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute found a body identified as that of sepoy Beli Ram who was on the flight. On August 9, 2007, an Indian Army expedition had recovered three more bodies. On July 1, 2018, a mountaineering expedition also recovered the body of another soldier and some parts of the aircraft.

An expedition to look for the debris of the aircraft was launched by Dogra Scouts on July 26 this year under the aegis of Western Command. Officials said after 13 days of search, the team could recover parts of the aircraft on Dhaka glacier at an altitude of 5,240 Metres. Personnel belongings of some passengers were also found, an official statement said.

Indian Air Force also joined the expedition team on August 6 to supplement the search operations on the glacier.

In 1968, the aircraft carrying 98 defence personnel was just about to land at its destination when orders were given out to the pilot from ground control to turn back due to bad weather conditions. On its way back to Chandigarh, the aircraft lost contact with the ground control while flying over Rohtang Pass.

An extensive search was carried out for months,but it did not yield any success.

Source : Hindustan Times

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