Indian air force plane with 29 on board goes missing, spokesman confirms

A soldier stands guard as an Indian Air Force AN-32 transport aircraft carrying security personnel takes-off from the technical airport in Jammu, in this Feb. 9, 2008 file photo. (Reuters/CBS News)

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — A spokesman for India’s defense ministry says the Indian air force has lost contact with a transport plane with 29 people on board.

Nitin Wakanker says the AN-32 aircraft took off from the southern city of Chennai at 8.30 am Friday. It was slated to reach the coastal city of Port Blair three hours later but had not been in contact for nearly three hours beyond its arrival time.

A massive search by the air force, navy and coast guard has been launched, Wakankar adds.

CBS News’ Arshad Zargar reports the military dispatched 12 ships, four aircraft and a submarine to help in the search for the missing plane. Indian officials say a “sharp descent” from 23,000 feet above sea level was recorded before contact with the plane was lost.

Indian air force spokeman Anupam Banerjee tells reporters the last communication from the aircraft was about 15 minutes after take-off.


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