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Jul 01, 2013 at 09:32am IST

Uttarakhand: IAF battles against the odds to undertake difficult rescue operations everyday

Harsil: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is leaving no stone unturned in their rescue efforts in Uttarakhand. For now, the focus has remained on evacuation in places like Gaurikund where the number of stranded has been high.

Indian Air Force and Army aviation choppers have flown with an incredible frequency and grit, often landing the choppers in small makeshift helipads. Over the last fifteen days, the IAF has evacuated one and all - the old, the injured, the pilgrims and the tourists.

At 4:30 am in the morning, the pilots, who spend the night in the small, sleepy village of Dharasu, get up and report for duty. Once at the tarmac, Group Captain MK Yadav holds a quick briefing before the men and their machines take off for the first sortie, rescuing people who have been stranded in Harsil and beyond.

There is no talk of the tragedy that had hit the IAF - one of their rescue choppers crashed at Gaurikund and killed some of their men. Their focus solely remains on safe evacuation.

When the IAF first set up a temporary base in Dharasu to cater to the evacuation of those stranded in Badrinath and Harsil, there were logistical issues with fuel supply being the foremost.

Wild shrubs had to be cleared and dead animals buried. The C-130J Super Hercules was called in and in a first of its kind set up, called an aviation fuel supply bridge, it defuelled itself to feed the choppers.

On an average, 150 to 200 sorties were being conducted on the Harsil axis alone, with people being evacuated and fuel supplies being dropped.

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