NEW DELHI, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Indian military has launched a massive search operation to trace its aircraft that went missing over the Bay of Bengal, officials said.
The AN-32 of Indian Air Force aircraft with 29 members on board took off from Chennai city in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu at 08:30 a.m. local time on Friday.
The aircraft destined for archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was scheduled to reach its capital city Port Blair after three hours at 11:30 a.m. local time on Friday.
"Efforts are on to trace Indian Air Force, AN-32 aircraft and service personnel on board," said India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Defense ministry officials said the AN-32 was on a routine sortie from Air Force Station Tambaram to Port Blair, when it went missing about 300 km east of Chennai.
"Eastern Naval Command (ENC) deploys two P8i Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft with advanced Electro-optics and radars, two Dornier aircraft and 12 ships with integral helicopters to join the search operations initiated to locate the Indian Air Force AN-32 transport aircraft," a statement issued by Defense ministry said.
Reports said Indian Air Force has pressed into service a C130 plane along with two AN32 to carry out searches over the sea.
"Four ships of ENC which were deployed in the Bay of Bengal on different missions, have been diverted to the search area and eight ships of eastern fleet which are on return passage from the South China Sea are also proceeding at the best speed to join the search operations," the statement said.
The officials have also diverted a submarine to the area for locating the transmissions from emergency locator beacon onboard the aircraft.
According to India's state-run broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), of 29 people onboard of the aircraft, 11 were Air Force personnel, two from Army, nine from Navy, one from Cost Guard and six crew members.
Local media reports said there are more than 100 Russian-made AN-32s in service with the Indian Air Force.