A national tragedy

Sir, — Tragedy struck the nation when two IL-38 reconnaissance aircraft of the Navy collided midair in Goa killing all the 12 trained and experienced staff on board during the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Naval Air Squadron 315. These two IL-38 were part of the brigade which successfully flushed out TELO terrorists as part of `Operation Cactus' in the Maldives when the Tamil terrorists tried to overthrow Gayoom's Government. Ironically, these aircraft had logged accident-free flying for the past 25 years. The nation will definitely mourn the loss of these aircraft as these were a very important part of our set-up as it had anti-submarine, anti-shipping missiles, anti-surface vessel platform providing perfect coverage to surface units. These aircraft were used as part of search and rescue operations for those lost on the high seas of the Indian Ocean rim. The loss of these aircraft and men will cost the nation considerably.

The Prime Minister and the Defence Minister must order a high-level inquiry into these accidents and take effective action.

Vipin Kumar Nambiar M.K., Bangalore

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