11 trekkers lost life in Uttarakhand, massive Air Force rescue operation underway

New Delhi: The Air Force has launched a massive rescue operation at an altitude of 17,000 feet in Uttarakhand’s Lamkhaga Pass where 17 trekkers, including tourists, porters and guides, lost their way on October 18 due to heavy snowfall and inclement weather. So far, 11 bodies have been recovered from the area leading to the Lamkhaga Pass – one of the most dangerous passes connecting Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district with Uttarakhand’s Harsil.

The Indian Air Force responded to an SOS call made by the authorities on 20 October and deployed two Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) helicopters to reach Harsil – a tourist hill station in the state.

The search and rescue began on October 20 with three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel on board the ALH craft at a maximum permissible altitude of 19,500 feet in the afternoon.

The next day, an ALH was re-aired at first light with State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel, who were eventually able to locate the two rescue sites. This involved the rescue team at an altitude of 15,700 feet where four bodies were found.

The helicopter then moved to another location and at an altitude of 16,800 feet it caught a survivor who was unable to move.

On 22 October, ALH took off at dawn. Despite adverse terrain and strong wind conditions, the crew managed to rescue one survivor and retrieve five bodies from an altitude of 16,500 feet in four shuttles.

Two more bodies have been traced and brought back to the Nithal Thatch camp by a joint patrol team of Dogra Scouts, 4 Assam and two ITBP teams. The ALH team will conduct a search operation on Saturday to locate and rescue the remaining missing people.

The rescue team has handed over the bodies to the local police. The survivors were given first aid at Harsil before being sent to the district hospital in Uttarkashi.

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