Jammu: Armed forces on Sunday stepped up rescue efforts in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir where 12,500 people have so far been evacuated to safety by the army while air force pressed more planes and choppers into service and opened a disaster monitoring cell to deal with the crisis.
An improvement in the weather has allowed the rescue operations to be intensified in the state where nearly 150 persons are feared dead in the floods.
IAF has alerted all its bases to maintain a high state of readiness to respond to the crisis and has committed 29 planes and choppers into the relief efforts.
"The IAF Command has alerted all its bases to be at a high state of readiness to respond to the emerging situation," said Col SD Goswami, PRO, Army's Northern Command.
The Headquarters, Western Air Command, has also opened a disaster monitoring cell to coordinate between the efforts of all its bases, including Srinagar, Udhampur, Jammu and Sarsawa, apart from the fixed wing effort of other bases, he said.
A total of 850 persons have been airlifted so far from the flood-affected regions. Of this, 401 were evacuated yesterday, reports said.
"Rescue and relief operations have been intensified in view of the betterment of weather. It will continue till all people trapped in the floods are rescued," Air Officer Commanding (AoC), Jammu IAF Station, Air Commodore PE Patange told reporters here today.
He said that the priority was first to save lives besides airdropping rations and medicines to the affected people.
The Army, for its part, has further increased the deployment of troops for the rescue operation. A total of 184 columns (75 to 100 troopers each) besides 13 teams of Army Engineers have been deployed in Kashmir and Jammu, Goswami said.
Over 12,500 civilians have been rescued from the inundated areas of the state, he added.
According to Goswami, army is also reaching out to people and 3,000 civilians were provided with medicines, 2,000 given shelters and 3,500 supplied with food in different belts of the state, particularly in Kashmir Valley.
As the number of shelter-less people is rising, Army is also providing tented accommodation to hundreds, he added.
Major rescue operations got underway in the state on Sept. 2.
Army has been carrying out Mission Sahayata in Kashmir Valley and Mission Rahat in the Jammu region over the past four days to rescue people trapped in villages, isolated houses and multi-storied buildings in the affected areas.
IAF has pressed 12 AN-32, four IL-76, five C-130J and two C-17 transport aircraft into the operations.
Giving details, Goswami said that in the past 48 hours till last night, air force has mounted IL-76 sorties and used two AN-32 aircraft to airlift NDRF teams and equipment from Bhatinda to Srinagar and Jammu air force bases.
The IL-76 airlifted 32 tonnes of cargo and 162 NDRF personnel to Srinagar while the AN-32 ferried 25 NDRF personnel and a load of four tonnes to the air force station in Jammu.
IAF has assigned aircrafts from its bases at Agra, Chandigarh, Suratgarh and Sarsawa, apart from those in J&K, to the relief operation.