Army, Air Force step up rescue effort in Uttarakhand, Himachal

New Delhi: The Army and the Air Force today stepped up relief operations in flood- and landslide-affected areas of Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

An official release said the relief and rescue operation in the two states were the largest such operations undertaken in several decades. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has also deployed 3,000 of its personnel to clear roads in these states.

The release said Indian Air Forces’s C-130 J aircraft was launched for reconnaissance as a part of “Operation Rahat” and 20 aircraft and helicopters were deployed for relief work.

About 1,000 people have so far been evacuated by helicopter. The Air Force has also dropped 9,000 kg of relief material since Tuesday in flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the statement said.

The Army today commenced “Operation Surya Hope” with the aim of providing relief to people in Badrinath, Hemkund and Kedarnath regions, where more than 60,000, many of them pilgrims, are stranded.

“In first phase, Army teams carried out reconnaissance of the area and air evacuation of isolated pockets along Govindghat-Badrinath road and Ghagriya-Hemkund track today,” the release said.

In the second phase, the Army will focus on relief operations at Kedarnath.

The Army provided access to its communication facilities to 600 stranded people who were able to contact their families.

So far, 5,600 army personnel have been deployed for relief and rescue operations.

“Nine Army helicopters have been pressed into service and an additional six helicopters would be operational from June 20,” the release said.

Lt. Gen Anil Chait, the Army’s Central Command chief, along with a core team of officers were located in the forward area of Uttarakhand to personally coordinate relief efforts, the statement said.

BRO has deployed bulldozers, excavators, compressors and other platforms to restore the roads, the statement said.

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