New Delhi/Leh: In a swift operation, three helicopters of the 'Siachen Pioneers', a unit of the Indian Air Force, flew in just metres away from the border with China amidst rough weather conditions and rescued six seriously injured ITBP personnel involved in an accident.
The accident spot was just 200 meters from the Line of Actual Control under enemy observation, fast deteriorating weather and lack of any conventional helipad.
An ITBP patrol vehicle with 15 soldiers, carrying out regular patrolling along the Indo-Chinese border near Hot Spring post met with an accident on Thursday when the driver lost control due to brake failure after which the vehicle tumbled into a ravine and fell in the dry river bed.
Six occupants were seriously injured.
The casualties required immediate medical intervention and the only mode of rescue available in this terrain and remote region was by helicopters of the Indian Air Force at Leh.
On receiving the distress call, pilots obtained relevant information and planned their mission.
Within minutes, three helicopters of the unit were launched in marginal weather conditions, led by Wg Cdr BS Sehrawat, the Commanding Officer of the Unit.
Hot Spring and en route valley are narrow and the treacherous terrain has virtually no forced landing fields. For a single engine helicopter it increases the risk manifold.
In addition, the prevailing inclement weather in the area left the pilots with no margin for error, it called for extraordinary skill and courage to go ahead with the mission in such conditions, a statement released by the Air Force said.
Keeping an eye on the fast deteriorating weather, the crew went ahead with the evacuation.
En route near Tsogtsalu helipad, 32 km short of the accident spot, weather deteriorated further forcing the pilots to land and wait for 30 minutes before it improved.
The moment they found a small opening in weather, the crew took off without any further delay. The casualties were swiftly accommodated inside the helicopter.
On return, the pilots again encountered bad weather forcing them to land at Tangste helipad this time.
The pilots ensured that the casualties were administered first aid at Tangste while waiting for weather to improve, the statement said.
As soon as the weather improved, the formation immediately took off for Leh.
Once the helicopter landed at Leh, the injured underwent a quick medical check up and were sent to 153 GH, Leh.
Siachen Pioneers is a premier helicopter unit of the Indian Air Force that carries out extensive operations in the entire Ladakh region especially the Siachen Glacier.
Siachen Pioneers have so far saved more than 6,300 lives under the most challenging flying conditions found anywhere in the globe.
It has a rare distiction of being the only Unit that is constantly engaged in Operations for the past 30 years.