Five Air Force planes carrying rescue and relief material land in Leh

     Rescue and relief operations at Leh received a major boost today with arrival of five plane loads of men and material augmented by the Armed Forces. Two Ilyushin- 76 and three Antonov-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force landed at the cleaned- up Leh Airport by noon with 125 rescue and relief personnel of NDRF, medicines, generators, tents, portable x-ray machines and emergency rescue kits etc. Two teams from Health and Family Welfare Ministry consisting of specialist doctors and surgeons with five tons of medicines from Delhi also reached Leh. As of today, 110 bodies have been recovered from mudslides and flood waters by the rescue teams. Thirty-three columns of Army personnel along with soldiers of Indo-Tibetan Border Police have been deployed in the affected areas to carry out relief and rescue operations. So far 291 injured civilians and tourists have been admitted to the military hospital at Leh and 94 persons discharged after treatment. As a special gesture, the Indian Air Force has agreed to carry bodies of foreign tourists and non-locals to Delhi by air if no civilian flights are available from Leh. The tri- service Disaster Management Coordination Group which met at South Block this morning further reviewed the progress in rescue and relief operations and decided to earmark special service aircraft to carry 19 VSATs and a set of other equipment of BSNL to Leh so that mobile and telecom connectivity could be restored at Leh and its adjoining areas at the earliest. Two more MI-17 Helicopters are scheduled to join in the rescure operations at Leh later in the day. The Chief Controller (Research and Development) DRDO, Dr W. Selvamurthy, along with a team of experts also arrived in Leh to look at ways to prevent further damage to the town in the event of more heavy rains there.

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