'Operation Talaash' for missing Coast Guard Dornier ends, human remains found
Chennai: Thirty-five days after a Coast Guard aircraft on a surveillance sortie disappeared off the Chennai coast with three crew, the search operation has been "terminated" after recovery of human remains, parts of the plane and personal effects.
"Eighty per cent of the aircraft's parts have been retrieved, besides human bones and wrist watches from the sea bed," I G Coast Guard S P Sharma said here today, adding the search operation was "terminated" last night.
The authorities have called the families of the crew for carrying out DNA tests for identification of the deceased and collecting the remains and personal effects. The Coast Guard was in consultation with the Tamil Nadu Forensic and Science Laboratory to carry out the DNA tests.
On July 11, 33 days after the Dornier aircraft vanished over the sea off Tamil Nadu coast on June 8, its debris and the flight data recorder (FDR) were located 950 metres under water. Reliance Industries vessel 'Olympic Canyon' and a submarine from National Institute Of Ocean Technology were involved in the operation.
A massive search and rescue operation had been quickly mounted by Indian warships and planes for the missing aircraft and crew comprising pilot S Vidhya Sagar, co-pilot Subash Suresh and observer M K Soni soon after it had gone off the radar. Along with an INS submarine, a total of eight ships and aircraft had been pressed into action during 'Operation Talaash', described by Coast Guard as "first ever salvage at such depths".
"As the events unfold in terms of decoding the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder and establishing the identity of the crew, I am sure the board of enquiry will submit it's report as early as possible", Sharma said.
The FDR is likely to provide crucial data that could help ascertain the cause of the accident. Sources in the Coast Guard said the fact that the components were found "at a phenomenal depth" confirmed that the aircraft had crashed into the sea and also pointed to the severity of the crash.
"Indian Naval Submarine Sindhudhavaj, whilst on task for locating the missing aircraft, picked up a barrage of transmissions at a depth of 996 metres on July 6. This information was a vital source for deployment of the Reliance vessel, M/v Olympic Canyon, to localise the search," a Coast Guard statement said.
The Dornier aircraft CG-791, belonging to the Coast Guard, was deployed for surveillance along the Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay from the Coast Guard Air Station, Chennai. The last contact with the aircraft was at about 9 pm on June 8, and the Trichy radar tracked the aircraft until 10.23 pm at 95 nautical miles south of Chennai.