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Army, Air Force involved in rescue operations
October 08, 2005 16:19 IST
Last Updated: October 08, 2005 18:00 IST
Braving the loss of 26 soldiers near the Line of Control in Saturday morning's 7.4 magnitude earthquake, the armed forces swung into action and airlifted more than 10 injured people from inaccessible areas to Army hospitals in Jammu, Udhampur and Srinagar.
In a massive relief and rescue operations launched following an SOS from the state government, Air Force helicopters and Army teams have fanned out to remote hilly border villages to re-establish contacts and rescue those injured.
With the epicenter of the quake close to Baramullah, Uri, Kupwara and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, contact is yet to be re-established with most of the remote area where high casualty figures are feared, official sources said.
Army teams equipped with rescue tools and communication equipment were trying to reach border areas of Tandhar, Machil, Drugmul and Uri and upper reaches of the world famous resort of Gulmarg to rescue the injured people.
Most of the Army casualties were reported from frontline bunkers and makeshift barracks collapsed in the earthquake.
External Link: 'Pak quake toll may be more than 1,000'
Most of the casualties were in forward most pickets in Uri sector which adjoins the worst-affected Muzaffarabad district in Pakistan.
Massive earthquakes triggered a number of landslides and cut off the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway as well as other roads in border districts of Uri.
The Air Force, in response to the state government call, pressed into service a Mi17 helicopter to ferry injured persons from Uri to Badamibagh cantonment and Udhampur and nothern command Headquarters at Udhampur and another Mi17 service from Kupwara to corps Headquarters at Badamibagh.
Complete Coverage: Quake rocks North India, Pakistan
A third Mi17 helicopter has been pressed into service to link up Tandhar, Dhruvmal and Keran border areas of Kupwara district with Jammu. The Air Force has also pressed into service Chetak helicopters.
The Air office Commanding-in-Chief Western Command Air Marshall A K Singh had a telephonic talk with state chief Secretary Vijay Bakaya reassuring him of all help in rescue operations.
The Army has taken control of Uri and has barred media from entering the town of Baramullah district in Jammu and Kashmir even as the injured were being evacuated.
Survivors of the giant quake said in this hamlet, 20 km from Uri, that the death toll was "much higher" and the entire town had been flattened.
They complained that the relief and rescue efforts had not come speedily and were not enough.