J&K floods: IAF choppers 'only hope' of survival for people in mountains

"Our house is gone, household goods have perished and all our animals killed. We did not have anything to eat," said Chamail Singh of Rajouri district while showering praise on Indian Air Force for air-dropping food items and other relief material.

Sungari: "Our house is gone, household goods have perished and all our animals killed. We did not have anything to eat," said Chamail Singh of Rajouri district while showering praise on Indian Air Force for air-dropping food items and other relief material.

Singh, a resident of Sungari hamlet which has been ravaged by flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains, said, ""IAF choppers have become the only lifeline for us. They brought food and other relief material for us."

Like Singh, other people in the hamlet, which was totally cut off after the flash floods and landslides, were being supplied food by a small Army group for the past few days, before the IAF chopper delivered rations and ready-to-eat food packets to them.

Similar sentiments were echoed by the residents of Chasana belt of Reasi district too. "Twice they (IAF choppers) brought relief material after landslides badly destroyed our houses," Anwar Din of flood-hit Chasana said.

Five people have died in Chasana belt of the district in landslides triggered by flash floods last week when the entire area, housing over 2,000 families, was cut off from the rest.

Battered and uprooted by floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains, for thousands of mountain dwellers in the Jammu region IAF rescue helicopters are the "only hope" of their survival.

As the helicopters fly over the mountain hamlets and remote areas with relief material, they offered the best hope of relief to the stranded people many of whom had been stuck without food and shelter for the past few days.

Choppers of the Jammu IAF station, popularly known as condors, have been carrying out rescue and relief operations in 41 mountainous and remote belts of Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi, Udhampur, Ramban, Kishtwar, Doda, Jammu and Samba districts in Jammu region for the past 10 days.

The IAF choppers are engaged in distributing food items in flood-ravaged areas and evacuating stranded people.

Panch Kartar Singh of Udhampur termed the IAF choppers as the "messiah" to the people living in his Saddal village, which has been wiped out in flood and landslides on September 7, when 41 people were killed.

"They carried Army unit, NDRF and Police for operation to trace bodies and also supplied relief material to over 100 people, most of them survivals of Saddal landslide," Kartar said, adding that they also carried some to hospital.

Most of them were angry with the state government for its failure to reach out to the people in distress and patted the efforts of the IAF and Army, who reached to them with help, food and relief.

Air Officer Commanding (AoC), Air Commodore P E Patange of Jammu IAF Station told PTI that the entire fleet of choppers, Airmen and officers have been engaged in rescue and relief operation.

"We have carried out rescue and relief operations in 45 areas in Jammu division braving weathers conditions, rains and difficult terrains," he said, adding that some of the most difficult areas included Chasana, Nawapanchi, Poonch, Rajouri and other belts.

IAF Station Jammu carried out 269 sorties of aircraft and helicopters and airlifted 8,623 people, besides carrying 427 tonnes of relief material during the period, Air Commodore Patange said.

"First, we ferried food and medicines to the affected areas and then blankets and tents for sheltering the people," he said. "The moral of our personnel is very high though we are on the 10th day of the operation," he said.

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