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IAF mounts massive rescue and relief operation in Kashmir
February 21, 2005 14:30 IST
The Indian Air Force on Monday pressed into service its giant IL-76 transport aircraft and helicopters to rush food and other essential supplies to the Kashmir valley, which remained cut off from the rest of country for the fourth day following heavy snowfall.
The snowfall has triggered avalanches burying remote villages and stranding thousands of people on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, an IAF spokesman said.
So far 15,000 people had been airlifted to safety, he added.
With reports coming in of 300 people, mostly Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans, being trapped in the 3 km Jawahar tunnel, the spokesman said food packets were air-dropped for these people from the southern end of the tunnel.
Also see: Nearly 300 jawans stuck in J&K tunnel
"All these people are safe and measures would be taken to airlift them," the spokesman said.
IAF sources said choppers will be sent to remote villages south of Qazigund where a massive avalanche has buried a village of 100 houses.
"Six medium haul AN-32, 3 Giant IL-76s and Four Mi-17 and some Cheetah helicopters have been pressed into operation to airlift trapped civilian and armed forces personnel," the spokesman said.