81 of them are foreigners trapped in narrow valley

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday evacuated 90 of the 139 trekkers trapped in Ladakh's Zanskar valley, according to IAF spokesperson and Wing Commander T.K. Singha. As many as 81 of those rescued from the narrow valley were foreigners.

As Mi-17 helicopters were unable, due to their large rotors, to negotiate the valley, the IAF deployed six smaller Cheetah helicopters on the fourth day of the rescue operations. More than 60 sorties were made since sunrise for evacuating them.

With touchdowns not feasible at Skyu as the location had turned into an uncertain island, rescue efforts were carried out by pilots at ‘low hover.' The challenging flight manoeuvre of keeping the aircraft stationary close to the ground enabled passengers to clamber on to the helicopter.

The 81 foreigners rescued included 17 from the United Kingdom; 9 from the Netherlands; 7 from France; 8 from Czechoslovakia; 4 from Switzerland; 7 Germans; 4 Israelis; 4 Romanians; 3 Austrians; 3 Australians, 3 Italians, and 2 Spanish.

Also among those evacuated were six local guides and three porters.

Three heavy-lift Il-76 airlifted two excavators, one 22-tonne bulldozer, a six-tonne load of BSNL equipment and 10 tonnes of the Army's communication equipment, including cables.

Six medium-lift AN-32 transport aircraft also flew air maintenance sorties from Chandigarh, replenishing stocks and relief material for the Army in the region.

More In: National | News