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J&K: IAF airlifts 600 stranded people
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March 01, 2007 14:12 IST

Continuing Operation Humsafar for the second day, Indian Air Force has airlifted 600 more passengers, stranded at the 300-km long Jammu-Srinagar national highway, to the Kashmir valley.

A total of 2300 stranded passengers, including 600 on Thursday, were rescued in 17 sorties since Wednesday, defence sources said.

The forces have pressed into service a fleet of five AN-32 and two IL-76 aircraft for the purpose of airlifting passengers. The operation will continue from Udhampur and Jammu Air Force stations in assistance with civil officials, they said.

From Udhampur, the rescue operation started on Thursday where cloudy weather and heavy rains grounded the efforts on Wednesday.

Squadran Leader Anand, who was supervising the operation at Jammu Air Force Station, told PTI that air operation was being carried out smoothly and as the weather had cleared, most of the stranded passengers would be flown to and from Jammu and Srinagar during the day.

About 390 stranded passengers have been flown from Jammu to Srinagar and rest from Udhampur, he said.

The 300-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only surface link between Kashmir and the rest of the country, remained closed for the 10th consecutive day today.

Senior IAF officers, including Chief Operations Officer Wing Commander J S Thora and Colonel R P Singh, Commandant of the 213 transmit camp, supervised the rescue operation. The passengers have also been provided with free packed lunches.

Meanwhile, the Border Roads Organisation are on job round the clock to rebuild the 300-meter damaged and eroded highway stretch at Panthal, official sources said, adding that the work is expected to take three to four days more.

Over 1200 trucks carrying essential supplies are still stranded on the highway at different places and efforts are being made to facilitate their passage.

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