Army engages high-tech equipment to rescue pilgrims
Srinagar: In one of the major peacetime rescue operations, the Indian Army has deployed men and machinery including latest equipment to rescue the Amarnath pilgrims who were injured in the flash flood triggered by heavy rain, an Army official said here on Saturday.
The rescue team rushed to the site as soon as they got the information about casualties in the cloudburst that occurred on Friday evening, the official said.
He said an infantry battalion led by a Colonel along with Quick Reaction Teams, an additional company of personnel from the Rashtriya Rifles Sector and a team from special forces reached the holy cave along with specialized rescue equipment to undertake the operation.
“Through the night, the senior Army officers of the infantry battalion and Rashtriya Rifles oversaw and coordinated rescue operations from the cave and Nilgrar. Medical resources at the cave and at Nilgrar were activated and additional resources deployed,” the official said.
He said nine surveillance detachments with hand-held thermal imagers, night vision devices and other gadgets were deployed for the search operations.
“Two advanced light helicopters (ALHs) were moved for casualty evacuation at the holy cave. However, owing to bad weather, night landing at the cave was unsuccessful. Two Through Wall Radars and two Search And Rescue dog squads were also moved to the cave for the rescue operation,” he added.
Giving details of the evacuations, the official said the search, rescue and medical effort continued at daybreak.
“At 6.45 am, the first ALH landed at the site to commence evacuation of the injured. A total of 15 bodies and 63 injured yatris have been taken out. Both Army and Civilian helicopters are carrying out relentless sorties to evacuate the injured and the dead,” he said.
“A total of 28 patients have been evacuated from the cave to advanced dressing station Nilagrar. After stabilising, 11 have further been moved to SKIMS Srinagar in civil helicopters for treatment,” he added.
The bodies have been moved from the cave to Nilagrar while stranded pilgrims are being escorted by the Indian Army personnel up to Baltal, since the track is slushy and slippery.
“Simultaneously search was also commenced at daybreak at Amarnath Nar at Sangam for any possible casualties,” the official said.
Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen ADS Aujla and Major General Sanjiv Singh Slaria, GOC of counter insurgency Kilo Force visited the Holy Cave early on Saturday to review the rescue and medical efforts being undertaken by the Indian Army. The GOC Chinar Corps also interacted with the pilgrims and locals and assured of all possible help from the Army.