Shimla : The Indian Air Force (IAF) is still searching for the pilot and the wreckage of a MiG-29 jet that crashed in the high and remote Himalayan terrain of the Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
“The search operation would continue till the wreckage is found. We have deployed a Dornier, an AN-32 and Chetak helicopters,” Flight Lieutenant Priya Joshi, spokesperson for IAF’s Western Air Command, said over phone from New Delhi.
The pilot, who had taken off from Adampur near Jalandhar in Punjab Tuesday night, was on night flying training when disaster struck, she said.
It crashed in the mountains of Lahaul and Spiti district, adjoining Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The IAF Thursday renewed its search after a day-long operation the previous day.
“Four choppers were pressed into service in Bharmour (Chamba district) and Chokhang mountains (Lahaul Valley) Thursday morning,” said Lahaul and Spiti Deputy Commissioner Rajeev Shankar.
The search operation is now focused on the high passes between the Kugti wildlife sanctuary and the Chobia Pass, located at an altitude of 5,000 m above sea level.
The villagers of Chokhang, some 40 km from Keylong town in Lahaul and Spiti district, told police they saw a fireball in the sky and heard a loud boom Tuesday night.
“The entire mountain range in the interiors of Lahaul and Spiti is treacherous, and it’s really difficult to trace the wreckage as the hills are quite steep and gorges are narrow,” Shankar said.
An IAF AN-12 aircraft with 102 defence personnel on board, including six crew members, crashed on the 17,400-feet-high Dakka glacier in the Chandrebhaga ranges in Lahaul and Spiti Feb 7, 1968. Only four bodies were recovered.