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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 26 Jun 2013






http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130626/main2.htm
IAF copter carrying 20 crashes near Gaurikund; 8 bodies found
7,000 still stranded as landslides, rain hamper rescue; toll 822
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Gauchar, June 25
An Mi-17 V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed near Gaurikund this evening killing eight persons, including five IAF personnel and pilots. The helicopter was returning from Kedarnath after dropping supplies. The toll may rise to 20 as the helicopter was carrying ITBP and NDRF men.

Elsewhere, fresh landslides, cloudbursts coupled with torrential rains hampered rescue operations as the death toll in the June-16 flood rose to 822 with 142 bodies being found, including 127 in Kedarnath. Around 7,000 people still remained stranded in Uttarakhand.

Further, mass cremation of hundreds of bodies was delayed amid fears of disease outbreak. Rescuers battled rains to evacuate 1,000 people.

The IAF helicopter crashed around 4.30 pm north of Gaurikund amid poor visibility.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice-chairman M Sashidhar Reddy said eight bodies had been recovered, and that chances of finding any survivors were remote.

The IAF in a statement said five of its personnel were killed. ITBP Director General Ajay Chadha told the TNS: “We have been told that six ITBP men and nine NDRF personnel were on board.”

The helicopter was tasked with dropping firewood for mass cremation. The helicopter was part of a fleet of 80 ordered from Russia in 2008 at a cost of $1.3 billion (Rs 6,500 crore). The first induction was done in February 2012.

“IAF’s rescue operations (in Uttarakhand) will continue,” the IAF statement said. A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident.

The IAF flew fewer sorties today and evacuated around 500 people, including 120 from Badrinath, as rescue operations were disrupted by cloudbursts and rain.

The 500 people rescued earlier from the Himalayan shrine were brought down safely to Joshimath by road, a distance of 44 km.

Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar told mediapersons in Dehradun that IAF helicopters rescued 120 people from Badrinath and 327 from Harsil. At least 127 more bodies were recovered since yesterday from the Kedarnath area. Fifteen corpses were found floating in the Ganga in different districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Bijnore, taking the toll in the tragedy to 822, officials said.

The IAF, Army and Uttarakhand administration launched an operation to transport firewood and fuel for the last rites of those killed in the Kedarnath valley.

Agencies undertaking relief and rescue operations have expressed concerns over imminent spread of disease as bodies continue to rot in the temple town area 10 days after the tragedy.

Truckloads of dry wood and ghee have been dispatched to Kedarnath and efforts were on to conduct mass cremation of bodies after their identification, postmortem and DNA preservation formalities, a senior police official said.

State Director General of Police Satyabrat Bansal said the DNA of unidentified bodies was being preserved and they hoped the weather cleared tomorrow to facilitate the cremation.

“No survivors remain in the jungles around Kedarnath. They have all been brought out,” Ravinath Raman, nodal officer of rescue operations in Rudraprayag district, said in Guptkashi.

With rain hampering rescue operations in the morning from Badrinath, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna appealed to their relatives not to run out of patience, saying they were safe.

In Patna, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he had asked the Uttarakhand Government not to allow any VIP to land in the flood-ravaged areas to avoid any disturbance to relief work.

The ITBP today decided to send in a fresh contingent of troops and bring out those tired and exhausted. The paramilitary force, according to sources, is replacing around 45 men with an equal strength in Kedarnath, Badrinath, Harsil and Gaurikund areas.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130626/nation.htm#2
‘Flying couples’ maintain calm, save lives in tough terrain
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Gauchar, June 25
Working couples are commonplace in urban areas, but two couples in the Indian Air Force rescue teams mandated for operations in Uttarakhand are literally the ‘flying couples’.

Both the women pilots fly the smaller single-engines Cheetah/Cheetak while the men are pilots on the twin-engine Mi-17. In the tense and sensitive operations, they keep their cool and fly sorties rescuing the injured or dropping supplies, possibly forgetting that their own spouses are also on the same operations.

The couples go on about their work in such a manner that even the watchful eyes of a bunch of reporters trawling the area could not pick their respective marital unions.

As it was raining today and the pilots were relatively free, the media accidentally discovered the ‘flying couples’ in pilots’ dungarees going on about their work when requests started pouring in for pictures of the couples. “Great soft story,” a senior journalist said as he tried to convince an IAF official.

Squadron Leader SK Pradhan, who hailed from Bhubaneshwar, told to the Tribune that his wife Squadron Leader Kushboo Gupta “is a better pilot than me”.

The other couple is Squadron Leader Vikram Thiagaraman and his wife Flight Lieutenant Tanya Srinivas married for a year and posted on separate airbases -- some 800 km apart.

“My wife will join me soon in the northern part of the country,” Squadron Leader Thiagaraman said. So how do these couples get over the anxiety about the safety of their working spouses? “We are imparted training not to get emotionally attached,” explains Squadron Leader Kushboo.

Squadron leader Thiagaraman, who hails from Chennai, explained how he keeps his cool: “All IAF pilots can fly well. Just do not mix personal and professional life.”

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130626/nation.htm#3
Armymen trek miles to feed flood-hit pilgrims
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung
Tribune News Service

Harsil (Uttarakhand), June 25
Army personnel at an army camp at Harsil in flood-hit Uttarakhand were forced to trek a long distance on mountain tracks to arrange food for the 5,000 pilgrims who have converged at the camp. To solve the problem of food shortage that the camp was faced with, each soldier returned with 25 kg of rations in his backpack.

A cloudburst at Dharali (located between Harsil and Gangotri) on the night of June 16 blocked a 75-km-long road from Gangotri to Uttarakashi. This left about 5,000 persons stranded in Gangotri.

The next morning, the Army launched rescue operations at Dharali and Jhalla, located 6 km south of Harsil. Five persons were reportedly killed in the Harsil sector, said the Army. Presently, about 1,500 have been evacuated by air from Harsil and close to 1,000 have gone on foot to Uttarkashi.

“On reaching Gangotri, we saw vehicles covered in mud. Small cars were completely submerged in it. There was a huge landslide there. We had to break the windshields of cars to get people out,” said a jawan who was part of the rescue operations. With no roads left, the pilgrims were brought on foot to the Army camp.

The camp has a capacity of only 200 persons. The Army set up additional barracks and canteens to accommodate 2,000 flood victims. About 2,000 more victims were lodged at the Harsil Interschool located near the camp.

“As people kept coming, we fell short of space. They were then lodged at Bageri, a village located in Harsil,” said an Army officer who is part of the rescue operation.

“At the camp, we only store food for about 200 Army personnel. Due to the rush, we soon started falling short of food. So, we began eating only two meals a day.

“We contacted the civil administration and requested them for rations. Our men had to trek on foot tracks - as the roads had been washed away - to Jhalla from where they brought back about two tonnes of rice and other food products in their backpacks.

“We have started receiving rations only the past two days. These are being airlifted to us,” said the Army officer.

The Army in Harsil started taking victims to Uttarakashi by helicopters on June 19. But with crowds - each one wanting to be evacuated first - thronging the helipad, chaos ensued.

“People would break barriers leading to stampedes. We discussed the problem with the pilgrims and started a token system,” he said.

The officer said youngsters were motivated to walk down to Uttarakashi from Harsil. “But when the victims who were travelling on foot saw the air evacuations, they returned to the Harsil camp. At present, 1,200 persons are still stuck at the camp and the numbers are not reducing due to this mentality,” said the officer.

Milk of human kindness

    The Army camp at Harsil had food for about 200 soldiers only. To offer food to the large number of rescued pilgrims, the soldiers decided to have only two meals a day
    Each soldier returned with 25 kgs of rations from his backpack to meet the scarcity of food


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130626/nation.htm#5
The commander who always returned the compliment

Gauchar, June 25
"I am not from Goa. I am from Mumbai," said Darrell Castellino, commander of the ill-fated Mi-17 helicopter that crashed today in Gaurikund, when someone said his second name suggested that he hailed from the beach state.

Castellino, who was piloting the big chopper in the Garhwal hills to rescue people, looked tired but enthusiastic yesterday when he was greeted at the ITBP camp where he was staying with one of his pilots.

Tall and dark, Castellino was happy that he was getting to wear his dark green jumpsuit for a big operation to "bring in more and more live people" stranded and battered by heavy rains and flash floods for over a week.

Castellino was even complimented for his good work by ITBP DIG Amit Prasad while he was having dinner at the officers' mess. "Arey sir aapke ladke bhee bahut zabardast kaam kar rahein haiin (Sir, your boys too are doing a great job)," he replied to the ITBP commander.

With his comment, he proved his friends correct who said he always used to return a compliment.

This is the first crash of the newly inducted Mi-17 V5.

The flying machine which went down belonged to 157 Helicopter Base in Barrackpore, West Bengal. — PTI

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/uttarakhand-air-force-deploys-specially-trained-garud-commandos-for-rescue-operations-383959?pfrom=home-otherstories
Uttarakhand: Air Force deploys specially-trained Garud commandos for rescue operations
Dehradun: In its largest rescue operation ever, the Indian Air Force has pulled out all stops as it battles difficult terrain and hostile weather to bring out people stranded in Uttarakhand after floods ravaged the hill state last week. One if its innovations - introducing the Garuds for evacuation.

The Garuds are self-contained special force commando teams; about 20 commandos have been brought to Uttarakhand from Delhi and are based at the Gauchar relief camp from where the Air Force is launching multiple helicopter sorties every day to air evacuate people.

The Garuds have been deployed to speed up rescue work. They will descend from helicopters with ropes to pick up those who are stranded if the choppers are unable to land in places due to the bad weather.
They are also expected to be deployed if more people need to be evacuated from remote areas like Bhairon Chatti, and Garud Chatti, where 50 people are stuck high in the hills. The armed forces have been using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs to scan for survivors in the area.

It has been raining heavily in Uttarakhand overnight and today slowing down rescue work considerably. The Met department has predicted heavy rain over the next few days.

http://colombogazette.com/2013/06/25/army-turns-down-indian-offer/
Army turns down Indian offer
The army says it had turned down an offer by India to train two Sri Lankan officers at another location as opposed to the Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) in Wellington, Tamil Nadu.

The two officers who were following the Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) in Wellington, India returned to the island today (Tuesday) prematurely following stiff opposition in Tamil Nadu to the training given to them.

Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said that due to some security concerns the Indian Government had offered to transfer the two officers from DSSC Wellington to the Higher Defence Management Course (HDMC) in the College of Defence Management, Secundrabad in Andhra Pradesh.

The Higher Defence Management Course normally followed by senior officers in the rank of Colonel is a higher course in scope.

The army spokesman said that the Sri Lankan authorities, whilst appreciating the offer, declined to accept it as it was observed that the HDMC was not in line with the initial purpose of sending the two officers for training in India.

“Moreover, a higher course with an entirely different scope would neither benefit the officers nor the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in immediate future employment of these officers.  Hence, the Sri Lankan Government made a request to withdraw the two officers from DSSC course and accordingly they returned to the island this morning,” he said.

However he reiterated that the withdrawal does not in any way hamper the growing relationship and training partnership between the Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka.

He said that the Indian Armed Forces are key partners in the professional career development of officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.  (Colombo Gazette)

http://www.nation.lk/edition/breaking-news/item/18748-two-military-officers-following-defence-course-in-india-return-prematurely.html
Two military officers following defence course in India return prematurely
The two officers who were following the Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) in Wellington, India returned to the island 'prematurely', according to the Sri Lanka Army. Due to security concerns the Indian Government had offered to transfer these two officers from DSSC Wellington to Higher Defence Management Course (HDMC) in the College of Defence Management, Secundrabad. Higher Defence Management Course normally followed by senior officers in the rank of Colonel is a higher course in scope.

"The Sri Lankan authorities whilst appreciating this offer kindly declined as it was observed that the HDMC was not in line with the initial purpose of sending these two officer for training in India. Moreover, a higher course with an entirely different scope would neither benefit the officers nor the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in immediate future employment of these officers", according to a press release issued by the Army.

Hence, the Sri Lankan Government made a request to withdraw the two officers from DSSC course and accordingly they returned to the island this morning.

However, the Army reiterated this withdrawal does not in any way hamper the growing relationship and training partnership between the Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka.

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