Dehradun: Indian Air Force has launched its biggest ever helicopter based rescue operation to provide succour to the stranded people in flood and rain-hit Uttarakhand, a top IAF commander said on Sunday. "Given the current pace of operations, the IAF feels it would take about a week's time to evacuate all those affected. However, the time period is just an estimate as all depends on weather gods," Air Commodore Rajesh Isser told PTI in Dehradun.
"This is the biggest ever helicopter based operation the IAF has launched in its history. Close to 30 choppers are making sorties here day in and day out. The results are slow but will improve with better weather conditions," Isser, who is also the Task Force Commander for IAF, said. Isser, who is on the ground since June 17, said they have evacuated, through air sorties, more than 6,000 people and the count is going up every hour.
The Air Commodore, who is supervising the entire fleet of choppers and fixed-wing air assets of the IAF here, said the Kedarnath Valley has been totally evacuated now. "Bad weather is what is troubling us but still we are inter-mixing the aircraft variety, ranging from small to large planes," he said, adding that depending on weather it could take about a week to complete the evacuation.
He said air operations are now focussed on areas like Gaurikund and Harsil and other places which were untouched. The force also deployed 50 more para commandos on Sunday in the affected areas adding to the already present strength of ninety such troops, who are adept at special skills in rescue tactics.
Isser said new tracks for able-bodied men to move on foot are opening up and that is a silver lining. "We are landing our choppers at places where people have been brought from upper reaches and expect that the challenge of bad weather would not trouble us much," he said. Jolly Grant airport here is one of the locations where IAF choppers are bringing people from affected areas.