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At least 22 people died and nearly 30 others were injured when a 42-seater passenger bus fell into a 300 ft deep gorge on Thursday afternoon. Nearly a dozen people died on the spot, others succumbed to their injuries on way to the district hospital at Reasi. The locals and police rushed to the accident site and launched rescue operations.
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In the meantime, the Western Command said in a statement, “At 1720h, the ‘Condors’ (a Mi-17 1V unit located at Jammu) received a message about a CasEvac of victims of a bus accident near Reasi, 70 km north of Jammu. Being on security and base defence duties, a helicopter was on standby, and the unit technicians raced to the aircraft to help launch it without any delay. Within minutes the crew collected their GPS, fed the coordinates, carried out a quick check around the aircraft, and started the helicopter.”
Here is the full statement:
“Understanding the paucity of time, the helicopter taxied out, lined up and got airborne by 1740h – within 20 minutes of the first message being received. As the helicopter flew towards the football ground in Riasi, 25 minutes away, light started fading and by 1752h, the sun had settled for the night”.
“Ten minutes after sunset the helicopter reached over the ground and the crew found the location in the dim light. The football ground was in a confined location with towers and obstructions all around. Skillfully avoiding the obstructions and the birds, the helicopter was brought to a hover at 30m above the ground, and the Co-pilot, Flight Engineer, Flight Gunner and Air Force Commandoes (Garuds) looked out below and advised the Captain and he manoeuvred the Mi-17 1V into the narrow field. The civil authorities were ready with the ambulances and the patients. The Garuds immediately set up a perimeter to control the crowd and provide security, while the Flight Gunner and Co-pilot supervised the embarkation of the patients, most of whom were in an extremely critical condition.”
“As the last of the 18 lying casualties and 3 sitting patients embarked at 1815h, the crew were ready to depart from the makeshift helipad. Taking off in the dark, 25 minutes after sunset, the crew navigated in the dark, using their years of experience and professional acumen to keep clear of en route obstructions. The Mi-17 1V landed at Jammu at 1833h. In the meanwhile the AOC, Air Cmde Ashutosh Lal had coordinated with the civil administration and all the resources were ready at Jammu Airfield for evacuating the patients. As the helicopter came to a stop at 1835h, the patients were disembarked into ambulances to immediately commence the lifesaving measures”.