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Indian Army Recovers Parts of Soviet-Era Aircraft Lost in 1968

© AP Photo / Dar Yasin / Indian army soldier. (File)
Indian army soldier. (File) - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): An Indian Army trekking team from Himachal Pradesh state has managed to recover the wreckage of a Soviet-era An-12 transport aircraft lost in 1968.

A team of Dogra Scouts was sent on an expedition on 26 July to search for and bring back the remains of soldiers who were on board the ill-fated flight, bearing serial number BL-534 which went missing over the Rohtang Pass region in the Himalayas on 7 February.

The recovery operation was conducted in the Dhaka Glacier at an altitude of 5,240 metres. It was joined by a team from the Indian Air Force on 6 August.

The team recovered the wreckage of the missing aircraft -- its engine, electric circuits, propeller, fuselage, fuel tank unit, air brake assembly and a cockpit door, along with the personal belongings of some of the deceased passengers.

It was a tough challenge due to the high-level of accumulated snow caused by avalanches at the glacier, and open crevasses made the troop's movement difficult and energy-sapping.

The An-12 aircraft, which was on a routine sortie, carrying 102 soldiers and four crew members on board, went missing while heading to Chandigarh from Leh. The rough weather situation in Ladakh forced the aircrew to abort landing and turn back.

During that time, it was speculated that the aircraft could have strayed across border and its crew taken into custody as prisoners.

In 2003, a team of young trekkers from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute stumbled upon debris of the aircraft near the Dhaka Glacier and found the dead body of one of the soldiers on the flight, later identified as Sepoy Beli Ram.

By 2009, four more bodies had been found following three search missions.

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