New Delhi: The Defence Ministry on Friday stepped up its efforts in the relief and rescue operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand where it deployed over 40 aircraft including the mighty Mi-26 helicopters and C-130J Hercules planes.
"The IAF has committed 13 more aircraft to 30 already carrying out the relief and rescue efforts taking the total number of aircraft to 43 which includes 36 choppers -- 23 Mi-17s, 11 ALH Dhruvs, one Cheetah and one Mi 26 -- and five fixed wing aircraft including two C130Js, three AN 32s, one AVRO and one IL76," a Defence Ministry release said.
The force has also activated two advanced landing grounds in Gauchar and Dharasu near the Kedarnath-Badrinath axis soon after the state government requested it to shift the base of operations further north near the worst-affected areas, IAF officials said.
The world`s largest chopper Mi-26 has also been deployed for ferrying fuel and special forces troops to forward areas for carrying out rescue operations.
The Western Air Command here said it had put in place the standard operating procedures for disaster management but it had not anticipated the enormity of the present situation.
"We have transported a 25-bed hospital using our C-130J aircraft there in Dharasu which can treat over 100 people per day and can run without backup for seven days," WAC Senior Air Staff Officer Air Marshal P S Gill told reporters.
The IAF has flown over 300 sorties and rescued over 2,100 people from the worst-affected areas such as Kedarnath, Dharasu and Badrinath.
Joining the relief operations, the Navy has also deployed around 45 of its divers for rescuing people there.
The Army continued the relief operations and has deployed around 8,000 jawans in one of the biggest operations carried out by it in the last several decades.
"Approximately 16,000 persons have been rescued so far by road and Army helicopters while 115 helicopters sorties have been carried out so far," an Army official said.
Specialised Army personnel have also been carrying out the task of restoring BSNL communication and clearing helipads for aerial operations.