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IAF aircraft wreckage: Two Odia families wait for bodies to perform last rites

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Berhampur/Jajpur (Odisha), Jan 13 (PTI) Though more than seven years have passed since the disappearance of Charana Moharana and Purna Chandra Senapti, two of the 29 persons aboard the Indian Air Force’s AN-32 transport aircraft that went missing over the Bay of Bengal in July 2016, their families still await the bodies to perform the last rites.

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For all these years, both the families did not perform the last rites hoping that the bodies would be found one day. Both the families believe that bodies are required for performing last rites.

Their hopes have increased after the wreckage of the aircraft that went missing on July 22, 2016 was found at a depth of around 3,400 metres in the Bay of Bengal off the Chennai coast recently.

Charana Moharana (27) hailed from Sukunda village in Ganjam district and worked as a fitter in the Naval Armament Depot at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

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Purna Chandra Senapati of Rangaranga village in Jajpur district worked as a technician in the same depot.

A couple of days after the plane went missing, two officers of the Naval Armament Depot in Visakhapatnam had officially informed the parents of both Charana and Purna about their disappearance.

"We have not performed his last rites as his body was not found," said Sasmita Moharana, Charana’s sister.

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"As the debris of the missing aircraft was found off the Chennai coast, we hope the body of my son will also be found near the seabed," said Sudam Moharana, Charana’s 75-year-old father, who is suffering from caner.

"Even though the government declared his death and paid compensation, I could not believe it as his body was not found," said Charana’s 65-year-old mother.

"Now, there’s a chance to get his body," said Ashok, one of his cousins.

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Purna Chandra Senapati’s younger brother Pratap Chandra of Rangaranga village in Odisha’s Jajpur district said, "We have not performed the 11th day rituals according to Hindu beliefs. We strongly believe he is alive." "Though the government declared him dead, we do not accept it. We hope, he will return one day," he added.

The debris of the missing aircraft was found on the seabed approximately 310 km from the Chennai coast. The National Institute of Ocean Technology, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, located the debris.

Despite extensive search and rescue operations involving aircraft and ships, the missing personnel and aircraft debris could not be located until now. The aircraft, with registration K-2743, disappeared during an operational mission from Chennai to Port Blair. PTI COR AAM AAM MNB

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