Updated: February 6, 2014 3:48:23 pm
It was humble mobiles that helped IAF pilots co-ordinate a number of critical life-saving rescue sorties during ‘Operation Rahat’ in Uttrakhand,where IAF conducted the world’s largest heliborne evacuation and rescue operation during the flash-floods that ravaged the state in June.
IAF had operated 45 helicopters and rescued about 25,000 people stranded in the floods during this operation. About 150 pilots and 400 air-crew were involved in this operation,said Air Commodore Rajesh Isser during concluding day of an annual business summit,Confluence 2013,at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on Sunday.
“The young pilots had used mobiles and watsapp application in exchanging critical information about weather and sorties to be undertaken during the rescue. They also exchanged photographs. Mobiles did a great job. This,I would say was one of the brilliant innovations that some of these pilots came up while operating in the valley where about 60 helicopters (including civilian helicopters) were simultaneously conducting rescue operations,” said Isser who headed Operation Rahat where IAF helicopters few for 1318 hours and carried 800 tons of material.
The IAF official said the pilots relied more on their mobiles than any of the hi-tech instruments that were at their disposal in conducting the rescue between June 18-29.
Isser said that there were IAF personnel who worked for 15 hours at a stretch between 6am to 9 pm during the rescue operations. He also narrated how he had received about 5,000 SMS and countless calls from influential people wanting to rescue someone or the other from the valley. “However we stuck to a simple line,of rescuing the injured first,then women,children and the old. Youngsters were the last to be rescued,” he said while addressing B-school students at the event.
He also narrated stories of exploitation and greed,especially of the private helicopter operators who were involved in the rescue. Isser said there were instances were Rs 1.4 crore was seized from a sadhu and another incident where a pressure cooker was recovered which was full of hacked fingers (of flood victims) with (valuable) rings.
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