The Indian Armed Forces (IAF) has put to use some of the best military skill-sets to great effect in the flash-flood affected zones of Uttarakhand and rescued hundreds of fatigued and exhausted stranded tourists almost seven days after the tragedy struck the Kedar Valley.
The Army on Sunday evacuated all 1,000 stranded pilgrims in the mountain folds around Jungle Chatti in Kedar Valley.
Using cliff assault techniques, skilled mountain rescue troops of Army evacuated 460 by foot through one of the most dangerous Zones in Kedar Valley. The pilgrims were given food, fresh water, medical aid, blankets and plastic sheets at Gauri Kund Army Camp before further evacuation to Sonprayag.
Launching two columns simultaneously from Dharasu and Barkot, Army reached Hanuman Chetti yesterday and surged towards Janak Chatti and Yamunotri this morning and evacuated all stranded pilgrims from Yamunotri.
Army launched Phase 3 of 'Surya Hope' today which would focus on contingency plan of evacuating people by road from the hubs at Harsil, Gauri Kund and Badrinath. Inclement weather conditions did not stop Army from continuing its operations both with helicopters and ground troops.
Army helicopters were pressed into service by afternoon at Govindghat and Jungle Chatti. Evacuation was completed within a short span of time due to continuous and relentless efforts.
Army also air lifted hygiene and sanitation stores and chemicals, blankets, food packets and medicines. More than 3,000 Kgs have been dumped at major rescue centres. Two medical aid centres each have been opened at Gaurikund, Goucher, Joshimath and Harsil.
With the launch of Burma Bridge across Alaknanda River at Lam Bagar on Joshimath - Bardrinath road, it is now possible for pilgrims to be evacuated by foot from Badrinath to Govindghat. Vehicular movement is already underway between Govindghat and Joshimath.
More than 1,300 people have been motivated by the Army to move on foot cum vehicles along the 74 Km stretch of road from Harsil to Uttarkashi. While the intra land slide sectors would be by vehicles, land slides per se will be negotiated on foot. Two administrative and logistics staging areas have been set up at Sukhi and Gangnani for the benefit of people travelling by road.
The C130 J aircraft undertook a weather recce mission in the morning based on which the IAF helicopters started operation in Harsil Sector and another one carried fuel. Six AN- 32 sorties airlifted bridging equipment, 50 Para troops with 2,000 kg load, fuel barrels and two IAF Disaster Management Communication Vehicles.
On Sunday, the IAF had airlifted about 2,094 persons till 3 PM. It flew about 180 sorties, dropping/landing 20,000 kg of relief material and equipment besides airlifting 210 NDRF and Army personnel.
The progressive effort of the IAF for Op Rahat' shows a total of 1,088 sorties flown, 8,222 persons airlifted and about 1,48,550 kg load dropped /landed.