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Rescue Operations demonstration by SWAC
Air warriors from South Western Air Command involved in Humanitarian And Relief Mission (HADR) during the recent spate of heavy rain and flooding in the state of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka were invited over to Headquarter SWAC in Gandhinagar to share their experience and gained knowledge on the live actions they undertook whilst rescuing marooned people and positioning air drop of relief material at places inaccessible by ground rescue teams. Many of such missions were undertaken in marginal weather which demanded superior flying skills.
Envisaging heavy rains based on meteorological bulletins in its Area of Responsibility, Air Marshal HS Arora AVSM ADC AOC-in-C SWAC during his review had directed to proactively pre position air assets at various nodal points in Gujarat and Maharashtra area. This helped to reduce reaction time resulting in swift and rapid rescue and relief missions at affected areas especially in Navsari, Surat, Jamnagar and Bhuj.
When reinforcing of helicopters assets was hampered at Kolhapur from Mumbai due to inclement weather over the Western Ghats, helicopters were rerouted via Aurangabad from Baroda to bolster the rescue efforts. An AVRO aircraft of IAF was the first to land with NDRF rescue team during persistent rain.
Rescue teams of Indian Army, Indian Navy, NDRF, SDRF too were quickly airlifted both by fixed wing An-32, AVRO,C-130, heavy lift aircraft viz C-17, IL-76 and helicopters from various air bases to Vadodara, Pune and Belgaum for rapid deployment at affected area. Seamless co-ordination with various government departments was ensured.
The rescue missions spanned from directing NDRF people to the marooned Mahalaxmi Express on 27 Jul, and thereafter rescuing people from Navsari, Surat, Kolhapur, Jamnagar, Bhuj as the monsoon rage was shifting by the passing days.
A few acts of bravery too were demonstrated when an air warrior had winched himself down in flooded area close to Navsari to help an old lady climb on the cradle which she was apprehensive about. Helicopter crew involved in rescue mission at Bhuj landed at small clear area nearby to offload people to safety thereby able to rescue all marooned people. A low hover over marooned Mahalaxmi Express helped in directing NDRF team to quickly reach the train for rescue.
South Western Air Command had flown large numbers of sorties towards rescuing nearly 300 marooned people including women and children, airlifted nearly 60 tonnes of relief material which includes 23,000 Kgs air dropping of food packets and had mobilized nearly 200 personnel of Army, Navy, NDRF and SDRF rescue teams.