Indian Army, IAF rescue 420 tourists in Ladakh (Lead)August 9th, 2010 - 10:58 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Leh, Aug 9 (IANS) The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force, carrying out major rescue operations in the ravaged Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, Monday evacuated nearly 420 tourists stranded in villages hit by flash floods that killed some 150 people.
Six Cheetah helicopters of IAF made over 60 sorties and evacuated 90 stranded tourists - mostly foreigners - from Skyu in the Zanskar Valley, an official said.
About 130 trekkers were stranded in the village that could be reached only by Cheetah helicopters as the flight path was through a narrow valley which could not be negotiated by the large rotor Mi-17 helicopters.
Army soldiers also rescued 317 tourists, both domestic and foreign, along the Leh-Srinagar and Leh-Manali highways. The tourists were taken to safer locations and provided medical aid, food and shelter. The tourists were from Japan, France, Ireland, Italy, Israel and Canada, an official said.
The flight of the Cheetah copters to Skyu village was not an easy one, the official said.
“With touchdowns not feasible at Skyu at the location that had virtually transformed into a vast dissolving island, the daring rescue efforts by the IAF were all carried out by the pilots at low hover,” he said.
The official said it was “a challenging flight manoeuvre of keeping the aircraft stationary, perilously close to the ground even as passengers boarded the flight”.
The army, IAF and paramilitary personnel have been deployed to carry out rescue operations and provide relief to people in Ladakh following the devastation caused by a sudden cloudburst that triggered flash floods and mudslides Friday. Nearly 145 people have been declared dead.
Meanwhile, three IL-76 sorties also airlifted two excavators and one 22-tonne bulldozer apart from six-tonne load of BSNL equipment and 10-tonnne load of the Indian Army’s communication equipment, including cables from Chandigarh.
Six AN-32 also flew air maintenance sorties from Chandigarh replenishing stocks and relief materials for the army in the region. IAF aircraft on Sunday had airlifted medical equipment, medicines and para-medical personnel to Leh from New Delhi and Chandigarh.
The army engineers have also build temporary bridges over the streams where the passages were washed away.
The army is searching for the bodies of 26 jawans who are missing from Thygasi near Turtuk along the Line of Control.
There has been damage to military infrastructure in Ladakh due to the disaster.
“Many forward posts were cut off. Our priority is to recover the bodies to avoid an outbreak of epidemic. While the Manali-Leh highway would open for light vehicles soon, the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh road may take three to four days more to open,” said Leh-based 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen S.K. Singh.
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- Top Air Force official in Leh to oversee relief work - Aug 09, 2010
- 500 still missing in Leh, stranded tourists flown out (Roundup) - Aug 08, 2010
- Leh floods toll rises to 132, all foreign tourists safe (Fourth Lead) - Aug 07, 2010
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- Rescue efforts continue in Leh, 500 still missing - Aug 09, 2010
- Leh tragedy toll 120, Indian Airlines ferrying out tourists (Second Lead) - Aug 07, 2010
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Tags: army soldiers, cheetah, close to the ground, cloudburst, communication equipment, copters, daring rescue, excavators, flash floods, flight path, indian air force, indian army, ireland italy, jammu and kashmir, ladakh region, manali, mudslides, rescue efforts, rescue operations, zanskar