2nd Indian Transport Vanishes in Week : Newly Bought Soviet AN-32 Missing on Delivery Flight to India

Associated Press

A sophisticated transport plane that India bought from the Soviet Union disappeared on its way to India and is feared to have crashed, a Defense Ministry spokesman said today.

It was the second Soviet-built Antonov-32 purchased by the Indian air force to disappear in flight in less than a week.

Defense Ministry spokesman A. K. Roy said the second plane disappeared Tuesday en route from the Soviet Union after a refueling stop in Muscat, capital of Oman on the Persian Gulf. Seven crew members were aboard, he said.

The ministry did not explain why it did not announce the plane was missing for two days.

A ministry news statement said air force and navy aircraft were searching the Arabian Sea off Oman for wreckage and any survivors.

"The aircraft was joining the air force. . . . It was being flown to India by our crew," Roy said. "Once you purchase an aircraft, it is your responsibility. . . . You have to fly it to your country."

The ministry said the AN-32 lost radio contact one hour and 17 minutes after taking off from Muscat on Tuesday afternoon. It was heading for the western Indian air base of Jamnagar.

Military parties are still searching in the snow-covered foothills of the Himalayas for another AN-32 that disappeared with 18 crew members on Saturday.

It was traveling from the Pathankot air base in Punjab state to Ladakh near the China border, and disappeared over the strategic Nubra Valley. Authorities say no wreckage has been spotted.

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