Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Op Trishakti Madad

Within hours of the 6.8 magnitude earthquake hitting Sikkim and adjoining areas in the eastern part of the country late Sunday evening, the Indian Army promptly got into the act of providing succour by serving hot meals in the cold night even as large sections of people vacated their houses amidst fears of after-shocks that later followed.

'Operation Trishakti Madad' by the Indian Army, towards rescue and relief efforts of the quake-affected, which has so far resulted in the death of 32 civilians and two army personnel, assumed mammoth proportions by Monday.

Nearly 2,000 civilians are being provided shelter in eight army relief camps at Gangtok, Chungthang, Pegong and Darjeeling, while 400 others are in ITBP relief camps.

Reassured, several children from various relief camps went back home on Monday to don their school uniforms and even attended schools.

Nearly 5,500 army troops and nearly 700 ITBP personnel, numbering 103 army columns of varying sizes are currently engaged in the rescue, restoration and resurrection efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake that also resulted in 25 road blockages and five major land slides on NH-31A, between Siliguri and Gangtok.

The Eastern Command's General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who arrived at Sukna cantonment near Siliguri, late Monday night from Kolkata, was briefed on the ongoing Army's relief and rescue efforts, by the Sukna-based Corps Commander, Lt Gen V Bhatia.

The Army Commander will undertake a visit to various affected sites and interact with officials, both in Sikkim and neighbouring West Bengal, on Tuesday.

By late Monday evening, 21 engineering columns of the Army had restored one-way traffic and also partially restored tele-communication and power lines that had snapped immediately after the earthquake. Two-way traffic is expected to be restored by early Tuesday, paving way for easier rescue and communication to areas in north Sikkim.

Meanwhile, in a massive airlift effort by the Indian Army's aviation wing on Monday, four ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters) and five Cheetah helicopters evacuated 26 casualties - both civilians and military personnel, to military hospitals near Bagdogra and Siliguri.

More casevac (casualty evacuation) sorties are also planned for Tuesday. Currently, Army has set up 20 medical detachments in various locations to provide medical aid.

With roads to Mangam in north Sikkim cut off leaving people stranded, 30 persons including several doctors were heli-dropped at Mangam.

The army also set up 11 'langars' or cook houses at various locations in north Sikkim and Darjeeling providing hot meals, lending a genuine humane touch to the relief operations.

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