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IAF rescues 550 people stranded in Kashmir

January 21, 2012 16:18 IST

With hundreds of people left stranded due to inclement weather, the Indian Air Force on Saturday launched fresh operation by ferrying 550 passengers, including 300 civilians between the two capital cities.

"The first special flight from Jammu has arrived and the passengers from Srinagar are boarding the plane now," Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Asgar Hassan Samoon told PTI.

Samoon is supervising the airlifting at the Srinagar airport.

Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Jammu IAF Station, Air Commodore Nitin Sathe who supervised the air operation by setting up an airbridge between Srinagar and Jammu to cater to stranded passengers, told reporters that IL-76 and AN-32 planes have been pressed into services to shift stranded people from Jammu to Srinagar and back.

IAF officer said that air operations were also conducted on January 9 and January 13 to the mountainous belts in Reasi and Ramban belts to carry essential supplies and food grains and also evacuate the people.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had requisitioned IAF choppers to ferry passengers stranded for past ten days at Jammu and Srinagar due to closure of the Jammu and Srinagar National Highway.

PRO Defence, Jammu, S N Acharya told media persons in Srinagar, "IL-76 carried 250 stranded army jawans from Srinagar to Jammu and 250 stranded civilians passengers including men, women and children to Srinagar".

Acharya, who himself flew to Srinagar, said 50 civilians were also ferried in AN-32 planes from Jammu to Srinagar on Saturday and they would carry more passengers from Kashmir.

The IAF's CONDORS helicopter unit at Jammu had launched a major air operation on January 9 for rescue and relief in snow-hit areas of the state.

The state government is charging a nominal Rs 500 per passenger for travel between Srinagar and Jammu.

Although airlines have been operating additional flights for the convenience of the people, the ticket prices have shot up.

A Jammu-Srinagar ticket is available for Rs 7,000 and above, against the normal price of Rs 2,900.

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