The Heartbreaking Anguish Of 3 Missing Coast Guard Pilots’ Wives
It’s been over a week since Indian Coast Guard Dornier Do-228 airframe number CG791 went missing off India’s east coast on a routine night patrol mission. A big and sustained search operation with air, surface and sub-surface assets has continued in the Bay of Bengal ever since. Three days ago, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard spotted an oil slick and detected a weak but intermittent signal from beneath the surface — believed to be the aircraft’s emergency locator ping. An Indian Navy Kilo (INS Sindhudhvaj) continues to sonar-sweep the seabed to zero in on what could be the wreck.
I spoke this morning to Deepa Lakshmi, the wife of one of the missing crew members, Subash Suresh, a day after she tweeted to the Indian PM asking for his personal attention in the effort. She told me she was fully satisfied with the information that was being shared with her by the Indian Coast Guard and Navy, but ‘shattered and anxious’, she could think of nothing else but to reach out to the PM. I don’t think anyone can imagine what Deepa, Sushma (wife of pilot Sai Vidyasagar) and Amruta (wife of co-pilot Manoj Soni) are going through.
Deepa spoke to my India Today colleague Shreesha Reddy today. She said, “The brain understands that a lot of things are happening, but the heart is making us do all this, the tweets and messages. We have complete faith in the government of India and the Coastguard. If the PM can put in a word, perhaps things will move faster. There is nothing that has happened to us to lose hope that we have lost our boy. He is going to come back to us. He is there somewhere, but don’t know where he is. Though it is emotional, we are very confident and have not lost hope on anything.”
According to the last formal update from the Indian Coast Guard yesterday, “Intense search for missing ICG aircraft continues relentlessly by Coast Guard and Naval ships and aircraft for the seventh consecutive day. The submarine operations continued for detection of acoustic signal from the Sonar Locator Beacon (SLB) of the missing aircraft. Feeble /sporadic signals received are being reconfirmed by probe equipment of National Institute of Oceanography (NIOT) embarked onboard ICG Ship. A total of eight ships and aircraft of the ICG and IN continue to search in the most probable area. Aerial search is also being continued with the deployment of ICG and IN aircraft. A total of 136 hours have been flown so far by the ICG and IN aircraft towards search. Research vessel ‘Sagarnidhi’ arrived at 1000 hrs today and undertaking subsurface search and seabed profiling for ascertaining the position of missing aircraft.”