An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with 29 people on board went missing over the Bay of Bengal on Friday, Defence Ministry sources said.

The aircraft was flying from Chennai to Port Blair. Those on board included six crew members.

“The aircraft departed at 8.30 a.m. and was due at Port Blair at 11.30 a.m. The aircraft has not reached. Search operations are on,” a senior IAF official reportedly said to us over telephone from New Delhi.

“We have deployed Coast Guard aircraft and ships to search for the plane,” a Coast Guard Official told to our sourcesOfficials said it was a “courier flight” with service personnel on board.

Map of Rescue operation

A major search and rescue operation has been launched by the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal. The Navy has also launched a surveillance aircraft in search of the missing plane in the Bay of Bengal.

A Dornier aircraft has also been sent and four ships,  Karmukh, Gharial, Jyoti and Kuthar have been diverted to the region at full speed.

The plane was on a courier flight, officials say.There are  Russian-made AN-32s in service with the IAF. Once filled with fuel the aircraft is capable of flying for up to four hours.

Navy officials said that P-8I surveillance aircraft, a Dornier and four ships had been deployed in the search operation.