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IAF rescues American stranded near glacier in Leh

Last Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 19:30

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In what can be called a show of absolute heroism and gallantry, pilots of Leh based Helicopter Unit rescued an American national who had fallen ill during a trekking expedition and was stranded in tough glacial terrains at the base of Saser Kangri-II peak in the East Karakoram range of Ladakh region in India, a press release reported on Saturday.

Steven John Swenson, a member of the Indo-American team of mountaineers, succumbed to the high-altitude related sickness yesterday near ‘Shupka Kunzang’ one of the most difficult glaciers situated at the base of Saser Kangri-II peak and the team requested for an immediate air rescue.

According to an official press release here today, the headquarters of the IAF Western Air Command swung into action immediately and entrusted the Leh-based helicopter unit with the responsibility of rescue mission.

In no time, all the minute details for the engineering of the rescue mission were obtained and a two helicopter rescue team of ‘Siachen Pioneers’ Squadron got airborne from Leh Air Force Base.

The rescue team led by Wing Commander S Srinivasan comprised of Wing Commander DC Tiwari, Flight Lieutenant A Agrawal and Flight Lieutenant A K Bharmoria.

Having navigated accurately and done the correct assessment of the prevailing situation, the rescue teams steered their planes to the fringes of their limits and Wg Cdr S Srinivasan managed to land successfully at the restricted area where the casualty, Steven John Swenson, was taken onboard.

The mission that involved maneuvering the planes into unknown territory and landing at a density altitude of approximately 23000 ft over an inhospitable glacier according to the release, was indeed a tough one with restricted landing site, negligible reserve of power, afternoon hours, and unprepared landing site adding to the criticality of the mission.

The “Siachen Pioneers” crew displayed highest level of professionalism, planning and courage without fearing for their own safety, resulting in the successful completion of the mercy mission, the release said. Air Cmde S P Wagle, Air Officer Commanding Air Force Station, Leh, personally supervised and coordinated the entire mission, the release added.

The two helicopters landed after the successful rescue at 4:51PM and the American trekker was transferred into a waiting ambulance, checked and stablised by the IAF medics and carried to General Hospital, Leh for further treatment.

The successful completion of this mission added yet another feather to the cap of ‘Siachen Pioneers’ who had staged a similar heroic rescue act just four days ago.

First Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 19:13

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