New Delhi: At least six additional commercial
flights are expected to operate from Leh tomorrow to evacuate
tourists stranded there following the devastating cloudburst
that struck Ladakh.
Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said the Jammu and
Kashmir government has requested the Centre to operate
additional civilian flights to Leh so that the stranded
tourists and others can leave the town either for Srinagar or
for New Delhi.
"We are hopeful that perhaps one flight could go today
otherwise tomorrow at least five or six flights will go. I
have been in touch with the Secretary, Civil Aviation and he
has promised to do the needful," he said.
The steps have been taken as several thousand tourists
were stranded in Leh and its surrounding areas following the
disaster that so far claimed 130 lives.
The Leh airport is located at an altitude of 11,500 feet
above sea level. The cloudburst triggered flash floods on
Thursday night that inundated the runway of the airport.
Operations at the runway resumed yesterday afternoon.
Pillai said weather conditions have not improved yet in
the region and it has been raining all along.
"There are other areas in the district which could again
get affected through landslides and so on. District
administration is aware of it and taking action," he said.
The Home Secretary appreciated the rescue and evacuation
works carried out by local people and the security forces
there which led to saving of many lives.
"I must compliment and thank people of Leh who came out
and responded tremendously in the initial hours. They saved a
large number of lives. The Indian Army itself has put in
thousands of people in rescue efforts," he said.
Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher will be operating
three flights each to Leh in order to bring back the stranded
“The Civil Aviation Ministry has organised for Air India,
Jet Airways and Kingfisher to operate three flights each to
Leh tomorrow to bring back stranded people," a Civil Aviation
Ministry spokesperson said.
The Ministry has directed the airlines not to charge
excessive fares during this crisis.
The Ministry is also coordinating with the state
government to airlift relief supplies, the official said.