NEW DELHI :
The operation to retrieve the bodies of the 13 air warriors on board the ill-fated AN-32 aircraft that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh remained suspended on Tuesday, even as a ground team comprising Garud commandos, civilian porters and hunters was on its way to the site on foot, IAF officials said.
Shillong-based IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said the first segment of this trekking party which left on Monday is likely to reach the accident site on Tuesday.
"Due to bad weather and clouds we could not undertake the retrieval operation today as well. Our helicopters were on the lookout for a window to fly but could not. But we are leaving no stone unturned in our attempts to retrieve the bodies," he said.
Helicopters, including Mi-17s, Cheetah and ALH have been unable to approach the site during the last three days because of inclement weather in the valleys and cloud cover over the crash site, officials said.
"Retrieval operations require the steep mountain sides to be visible for the helicopters to safely hover close to the crash site and for operating crew to be able to see the personnel on the ground," Singh said.
A ground team comprising Garud commandos of the IAF, Special Forces of the Indian Army, civilian porters and hunters was already on its way to the accident site on foot, he added.
"No efforts are being spared by the IAF personnel to ensure that the mortal remains of their brothers in arms are retrieved at the earliest. The Army and Arunachal Pradesh state administration have all along provided unflinching support," the IAF spokesperson said.
The wreckage of the missing AN-32 was located by a Mi-17 helicopter on June 11, following which a team of 15 mountaineers was dropped near the crash site the next day.
Later, three more mountaineers joined the rescue team, officials said, adding, that the IAF has actively coordinated with state administration at all levels.
A rescue team had recovered the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) of the Russian-origin aircraft at the crash site Friday.
The Indian Air Force Thursday said all the 13 people on board the aircraft had died.
The transporter aircraft was going from Jorhat in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground near the border with China on June 3 when it had lost contact around half-an-hour after taking off.