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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Army aviators dare weather

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, June 25, 2013
First Published: 08:33 IST(25/6/2013) | Last Updated: 08:36 IST(25/6/2013)

Indian Army’s Central Command continued its unprecedented rescue operations in the flood-hit Uttarakhand on Monday despite inclement weather in the region. Under phase three of its operation, the men in uniform evacuated stranded people through land route from Badrinath to Joshimath and from Harsil to Uttarkashi.

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Army teams carried out extensive search operations and identified segments of road affected by landslides and developed crossing capability. “Army aims to build up confidence amongst pilgrims. Based on necessity, it would evacuate pilgrims by road and coordinate their arrival in reception areas,” a ministry of defence press communiqué said.

In Badrinath Sector, as many as 281 people were moved through the land route on Sunday after the construction of Burma bridge across Alaknanda at Lam Bagar on Joshimath - Badrinath road. On Monday, Army created Heli Bridge at Lam Bagar in addition to the foot-bridge. The heli shuttle service continued till reports last came in. Two Army helicopters and three civil helicopters ferried people from Badrinath.

Over 800 people moved towards Joshimath on Monday with 450 using heli bridge and the rest using Burma Bridge. Army aviators challenged weather in Badrinath Valley to transport people in inclement weather condition.

“In Uttarkashi sector, MI 17 helicopters made 16 sorties evacuating 402 people from Harsil while 683 people reached Uttarkashi by foot. Foot/vehicle-based evacuation continued throughout the day. Army established staging areas stocked with food, water and medicines at Sukhi and Gagnani for the evacuees. Following intermittent rainfall, a number of landslides occurred on Rishikesh -Rudraprayag route though the route ahead to Joshimath remained open on Monday,” the statement said.

Approximately 1,400 people are awaiting evacuation at Harsil, 50 at Dharali and 60 at Jhala on Uttarkashi axis and approx 5,000 at Badrinath. Army established food distribution centres at Govindghat and Joshimath. In the Kedarnath sector, Army special troops with mountaineering skills continued search and rescue operations to link up with stranded people, if any, between Jungle Chatti and Rama Bara.

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