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Amarnath tragedy: Indian Army uses latest equipment for search, rescue operations

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Srinagar, July 09: In one of the major peacetime rescue operations, the Indian Army has deployed men and machinery including latest equipment to rescue the Amarnath pilgrims who were injured in the flash flood triggered by heavy rain.

The rescue team rushed to the site as soon as they got the information about cloudburst that claimed 16 lives so far. Over 15,000 people are said to be rescued and 40 are believed to be missing. The Army, National Disaster Response Force, Jammu and Kashmir Police are leading the search and rescue operations along with others.

Amarnath tragedy: Army use latest equipment for search, rescue operations

The Army said an infantry battalion led by a Colonel along with Quick Reaction Teams, an additional company of personnel from the Rashtriya Rifles Sector and a team from special forces reached the holy cave along with specialized rescue equipment to undertake the operation.

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"Through the night, the senior Army officers of the infantry battalion and Rashtriya Rifles oversaw and coordinated rescue operations from the cave and Nilgrar. Medical resources at the cave and at Nilgrar were activated and additional resources deployed," Army spokesman Colonel Emron Masuvi said in a statement.

He said nine surveillance detachments with hand-held thermal imagers, night vision devices and other gadgets were deployed for the search operations.

"Two advanced light helicopters (ALHs) were moved for casualty evacuation at the holy cave. However, owing to bad weather, night landing at the cave was unsuccessful. Two Through Wall Radars and two Search And Rescue dog squads were also moved to the cave for the rescue operation," he added.

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Giving details of the evacuations, the official said the search, rescue and medical effort continued at daybreak. "At 6.45 am, the first ALH landed at the site to commence evacuation of the injured. A total of 15 bodies and 63 injured yatris have been taken out. Both Army and Civilian helicopters are carrying out relentless sorties to evacuate the injured and the dead," he said.

"A total of 28 patients have been evacuated from the cave to advanced dressing station Nilagrar. After stabilising, 11 have further been moved to SKIMS Srinagar in civil helicopters for treatment," he added.

The bodies have been moved from the cave to Nilagrar while stranded yatris are being escorted by the Indian Army personnel up to Baltal, since the track is slushy and slippery.

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Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen ADS Aujla and Major General Sanjiv Singh Slaria, GOC of counter insurgency Kilo Force visited the Holy Cave early on Saturday to review the rescue and medical efforts being undertaken by the Indian Army. The GOC Chinar Corps also interacted with the yatris and locals and assured of all possible help from the Army.

"Citizens are advised to contact the Army helpline number +91 9149720998 for assistance/enquiry. Callers are also advised to have details of Yatris such as Name, Yatra registration/RFID (Radio-frequency identification) number, contact number, Aadhar number and the last known location and time," the spokesman said adding that rescue will continue through the day.

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