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IAF airlifts stranded passengers in Jammu and Kashmir

December 24, 2008 15:04 IST

Hundreds of passengers stranded in various parts of the Valley due to heavy snowfall were airlifted  on Wednesday to their homes by the Indian Air Force, who arranged special helicopter sorties for the purpose.

58 residents of the border town of Gurez, who had been stranded in Bandipore were airlifted to their homes, an official spokesman said. The residents had been stranded due to heavy snowfall, blocking the highway from Bandipore to Gurez over the Rajdhani Pass. Similarly, 78 stranded passengers were airlifted from Bandipora to Gurez in MI-17 planes of the Air Force, the spokesman said.
    
Gurez, situated near the Line of Control [Images], is cut off from rest of the state by road due to recent snowfall in the area.
    
Meanwhile, Air Force Courier Service for airlifting passengers from Jammu to Kargil [Images] would commence from December 27 to redress the grievances of the stranded Kargil-bound passengers.
    
This was decided at a meeting held here today chaired by adviser to Governor C Phunsog and attended by the Director of Airport Authority of India N N Gupta and the Director Civil Aviation S Katoch, the spokesman said. He said two sorties of the Air Force Courier Service on Saturday and Tuesday for airlifting passengers from Jammu to Kargil would be operated on weekly basis. He also asked Deputy Commissioners of Leh and Kargil to work in tandem with the Indian Air Force to ensure better use of the courier service throughout the winter season.
    
Meanwhile, the divisional administration is braced up to tackle any situation which may arise due to inclement weather and the closure of Srinagar-Jammu National highway because of heavy snow or rain, the spokesman said.
  
The disaster management committee also met today to discuss ways to provide food and shelter to the stranded passengers in case of heavy snowfall in the area, he said.
  
Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution department would keep available sufficient quantity of rice, atta, sugar and
kerosene oil to meet the requirements at prominent halting stations on the highway like Qazigund, Lower Manda, Vessu, Nasu Badergund and Saidawara, he said.
    
The Health department has also been alerted to keep medicines, doctors and para-medics available at Chak-i-Wangund, Zig Lower Manda and Qazigund with ambulances to provide medicare to the stranded passengers.




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