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IAF evacuates 1,330 people; airdrops 45 tons of essential items in rain-battered Himachal

IANS | August 29, 2023 05:03 PM

SHIMLA: The Indian Air Force (IAF), with a robust mechanism for responding to national disasters whenever the need arises, has evacuated 1, 330 people and airdroped 45 tons of food, medicines and essential items in the past two months in rain-battered Himachal Pradesh that witnessed massive infrastructure damage.

The IAF on Tuesday said it carried out 226 sorties across the state that lasted for 115 hours since July 8-9 when heavy rains struck the region, especially upper reaches of the state.

The IAF sprang into action by deploying two Mi-17 V5, one Mi-17 1V and two Cheetah Helicopters. From July 11-31 humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the hill state affected rescues in Chandertal, air-dropping rations, medicines and essential supplies and deploying national and state disaster relief crew.

The Chief Minister and senior leadership of the state were carried on board the helicopter to allow holistic assessment of the ground situation so that efficient and effective relief operations could be launched from the air as well as ground.

Sustenance rations and essential medicines were delivered, literally at the doorstep of the stranded people in inaccessible areas in the Sainj sector.

In all, 116 sorties were flown utilizing 64 flying hours wherein a total of 30.145 tons of relief material was dropped and 306 people were rescued. The operations were carried out ex-Bhuntar in the Kullu axis.

In mid-August, yet again flashfloods owing to cloudburst in Himachal Pradesh resulted in severe damages in Fatehpur and Indora in Kangra district. Disaster relief operations were recommenced on August 15. One Chinook helicopter deployed excavation equipment of the engineering regiment weighing three tons along with 18 troops in Shimla to clear debris and assist in rescue at a temple that had collapsed.

Two Mi-17 1V helicopters were deployed in Pathankot for carrying out extensive rescue operations in marooned areas which had been cut off due to torrential rains and landslides.

The timely response of IAF Mi-17 Helicopters as guardians from the sky rescued over 1, 000 civilians.

“Our Garuds also played a pivotal role in rescue operations by reaching out to the last citizen, be it winching or ground rescue. Immediate CASEVAC response was extended in rescue of two civilians by one Mi-17 1V in Kullu in a mission parallel to the other ongoing operations, ” the IAF said.

The helicopters were de-inducted on August 17. In all, 77 sorties were flown utilizing 39:30 hours and a total of three tons of load was airlifted. These operations were carried out at the ex-Pathankot airbase.

Starting August 24, further requests were received from the state government for immediate relief operations in areas that were cut-off due flooding.

The three-day effort was primarily focused towards airdrop of rations and pre-prepared food items. Close coordination between the state and air crew resulted in providing succor to vast belts in Mandi district.

Four patients, who were critical, were also airlifted to the PGI in Chandigarh. In high-tempo flying missions, over 20 tons of food was airdropped or airlanded by Mi-17 aircrew.

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