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IAF sets a world record with Uttarakhand rescue that saved 20,000 civilians in an astonishing 2,140 missions
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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has claimed a world aviation record by airlifting close to 20,000 civilians in 2,140 missions during the 15-day Operation Raahat to rescue victims of flash floods in Uttarakhand.
The first phase of operation Raahat ended officially on Tuesday, after which the IAF claimed that it was the biggest heliborne rescue operation of airlifting civilians in peace time anywhere in the world.
The gigantic effort was completed in 15 days, during which around 45 aircraft of different types were involved. The operation was also marred by a tragic accident involving a Mif-17V5 helicopter, in which the 20 people on board were killed.
The phase 2 of operation Raahat - focusing on supplying relief to the villagers - will begin almost simultaneously as around 8 to 10 helicopters are staying back in the region.
While the first phase was limited to pulling out stranded pilgrims and bring them to safety, the effort now will be concentrated on sending relief and rehabilitation help. The focus of phase 2 will begin with Pithoragarh and Dharchula in the Kumaon Himalayas, where many villages are cut off.
According to the assessment of the state administration, at least 4,000 villages in the disaster zone spanning from Kedarnath, Badrinath, Pithoragarh to Dharchula have been affected by the catastrophe.
The IAF has left most Advanced Light Helicopters in the region as they were best suited to operate in narrow valleys surrounded by high mountains. The requirement for relief operations would be indicated by the state administration. A large quantity of relief material has reached the state from all over the country and problems are being faced to move it to the disaster zone as road connectivity still remains broken.
The IAF helicopters could play a major role in dispatching this material to victims. At its peak, the IAF used 36 helicopters of various types backed by heavy fixed-wing aircraft. The mainstay of IAF's helicopter effort was the Mi-17IV/V5, the latest acquisition, and Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters. It also utilised its lone Mi-26 helicopter and Cheetah light helicopters.
The C- 130J special aircraft were utilised for daily weather reconnaissance sortie and also for forming a fuel bridge to the disaster zone.
Arunima to help flood victims
By Raju Gusain in Dehradun
Pledging her help: Arunima Sinha was the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest
The thought of Uttarkashi makes the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest, Arunima Sinha, emotional, as this is the place where she learnt the basic skills of mountaineering.
The ace mountaineer from neighbouring UP has decided to do something for the local people of flood-ravaged Uttarkashi. Arunima will be heading for Uttarakhand on July 7, and will bring relief material for villages in Uttarkashi.
After doing her basic mountaineering course from the National Institute of Mountaineering, Sinha attended a training camp under the guidance of first Indian woman Everester, Bachendri Pal, in Uttarkashi.
Sinha said: "I will be going to villages such as Aagora, Shankoli, Seku, Uttro and Naogoan during my stay in Uttarkashi. We will be providing ration, blankets and plastic tarpaulins. The effort is to reach the remote places where government has so far failed to reach. During my training, the villagers used to help up and feed us, now this is our time to do something for them."
A flood of support
By Mail Today Bureau
India Today Group, through its social arm the Care Today Fund, has come forward to lend a helping hand to families struggling to pick up the pieces following the devastating Uttarakhand flash floods.
As part of its initiative, Care Today Fund partnered Save the Children to supply relief material to 47 families in Sili village near Rudraprayag, one of the worst-affected areas.
In addition, Care Today Fund, through Save the Children, will provide a grant of Rs 15 lakh to supply relief material to 300 families living in other remote villages, which had to bear the brunt of the floods.
233 villages labelled 'disaster-prone'
By Raju Gusain
New villages make their entry to the list natural disaster sensitive areas after every monsoon. But the long wait of villagers to get rehabilitated continues. They have been receiving plain assurances from political leaders and state government since a long time.
According to Uttarakhand Government's 2012 data, 233 villages are natural disaster sensitive and needs to be rehabilitated. Despite this nothing on ground happened.
With such a long-pending list, people are doubtful about the role of the recently set-up Uttarakhand Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.
Chipko leader and eminent environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt said: "None of the governments have showed any seriousness in rehabilitating these villages."
Senior politicians engage in public 'mudslinging' over flood disaster after opposition leader uses Twitter to attack Uttarakhand government for being 'inept and incompetent'
Uttarakhand disaster: No help for hundreds of villages devastated by floods but relief and rations for some cut off from mainland
Relief efforts in flood-hit Uttarakhand break down as thousands of vital roads are left destroyed leaving the state government powerless to reach worst hit villages
Indian journalist who filed a report from a flooded disaster area while sitting on another man's shoulders is fired
Tourists evacuated from Badrinath
By Raju Gusain
The Army and the IAF were finally successful in evacuating all the stranded tourists from Badrinath on Tuesday.
Uttarakhand government's chief secretary Subhash Kumar said: "We have evacuated all the stranded pilgrims from Badrinath and with this we have completed the operation of shifting stuck visitors to safer locations. Today, the remaining 155 pilgrims were moved (by road and air) to Joshimath. Now only 150 local people are staying there in Badrinath and they too will be shifted by Wednesday."
Although the evacuation process has concluded, the IAF and the Army will continue to provide their services in Uttarakhand.