India launches search for missing plane

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has launched a massive operation for a military plane with more than 20 people on board which went missing over the Bay of Bengal.

The Antonov-32 transporter aircraft took off from Chennai (Madras) at 08:30 local time (03:00 GMT), bound for Port Blair in the eastern archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar.

It was scheduled to land at 11:30.

The ministry of defence said four aircraft, 12 ships and a submarine have been deployed to search for the plane.

The Indian Air Force has a relatively poor safety record and the Russian-made aircraft which form the backbone of the Indian fleet have been the most accident-prone.

The IAF operates more than 100 Antonov-32 aircraft.

Reports say surveillance planes and ships were looking for the missing aircraft, which was carrying service personnel to strategic islands near the Malacca Straits, where India has a military base.

India’s ministry of defence initially deployed two aeroplanes and four ships to look for the missing aircraft.

Eight more warships and a submarine have now joined the search.