Posted by Neelam Mathews
Oct 27, 2011
Since Oct.19, search parties have continued to manually clear the snow and dig the earth on the treacherous slopes using shovels and pickaxes in the area along the lines of impact, in search of the debris of the MiG-29 that crashed on Oct 18.
On Oct 25, the Task Force Commander Gp Capt P K Sharma coordinating the search for the missing MiG-29 aircraft and pilot, confirmed locating crash site at 15000’ AMSL above ‘Chokhang’ village in ‘Lahaul’ area.
The crash site was located by aerial search and imageries received from the Remotely Piloted Aircraft and other aircraft which conducted the photo reconnaissance of the area. Though the inputs were correct, however, since the crashed aircraft had disintegrated into small pieces and the debris spread across the slopes on either side of the ridge it could not be conclusively identified.
Subsequently, sarpanch of ‘Thirot’ village brought back some components with help of locals, identified to be of MiG-29, from the same area. However, the crash site could still not be confirmed as the area came under fresh snow fall. Also, soot and burn marks along the slopes as seen in our recce imagery as well as by villagers also disappeared under the snow, says the IAF.
IAF search teams were dropped on the ledge 200m above the suspected crash site at an elevation of 15000’ AMSL. This is about 5000’ above the valley base along village ‘Chokhang’. The ground search party was divided in groups to cover the bowl and the slopes on either side of the ridge where the images had indicated presence of debris. At a gradient of 70-80 degree and in an avalanche prone area, the progress could not have been faster.
149 sorties have been flown towards the search and rescue effort. According to AOC-in-C WAC, Air Marshal D C Kumaria: “The search will continue till we reach to the bottom of case and arrive at definite conclusions”.