‘We clung to trees for 8 hours… it was a near-death experience’

Army was still searching for two of its personnel who went missing during a rescue operation earlier in the day.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Srinagar | Published:September 7, 2014 1:52 am

On Saturday night, the Army was still searching for two of its personnel who went missing during a rescue operation earlier in the day.

Captain Nanjappa, a sapper attached with the rescue team which was carrying out the operation in Kakapora company operating base area in Kashmir, recounted the mission to his  Commanding Officer,  Colonel A P S Bhadoria: “The Jhelum was flowing at eight-ten knots. It was dark outside and our boat capsized. It was a near-death experience. We clung to trees and whatever else was possible for eight hours.”

Bhadoria, the commanding officer of the 55 Rashtriya Rifles, told The Sunday Express, “We got an SOS around 1 am that the bund on river Jhelum was broken. A team of 20 went with a raft to respond.” The team intended to evacuate civilians and take them to safety.
But they were in for trouble. “The boat capsized and our boys were thrown into the river. They held on to whatever they could find,” Bhadoria said. Then, around 2 am, 11 personnel managed to get out of the river.

“Subsequently, two of the remaining nine men swam to the river bank, while seven held on to trees through the night. We tried to use helicopters, but the bad weather did not permit them to take off. Finally, at around 12.30 pm on Saturday, we managed to save five of the seven men. However, two are still missing. We are continuing surveillance and hope that we will find them early tomorrow,” Bhadoria said.

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