RESCUE OF FLOOD VICTIMS : BY AGUSTA HELICOPTER OPS
The state of Jammu & Kashmir was battered by severe rains in the
first week of September 2014. This resulted in floods of disastrous
proportions in both Jammu & Kashmir regions. River waters crossed
the danger levels.
In the Kashmir region, the raging waters of the swollen Jhelum
inundated large surrounding tracts.On 4th September South
Kashmir was affected. On the night of 6th September, the
Jhelum breached its embankments and flooded most of urban Srinagar.
This necessitated rescue and evacuation of hundreds of marooned
people. Landslides and flooding damaged roads and bridges, power
links were snapped and telecommunication facilities affected. The
only railway link in Kashmir and all arterial road links were flood
affected. The only means of disaster management was by air and
promptly, the Chief Minister directed that both state helicopters be
put to use optimally for combatting the situation.
The Agusta helicopter was put into action promptly. It was flown by
Wing Commander Gautam Mamgain and Wing Commander Sanjay Agrawal. The
helicopter flew a total of 169 sorties in various roles – all vital
to management of the disaster situation.
Evacuation of stranded people.
The sudden floods took Srinagar city by surprise. Affected areas
extended outwards from the banks of the Jhelum. PanthaChowk,
Indranagar, Shivpura, BadamiBagh, Sonwar, Rajbagh, Jawaharnagar,
Tulsibagh, Bemina, Batmaloo, Residency Road, MA Road. The Bouleward
along the Dal was also inundated. This left thousands of local
residents, tourists, workers and government employees stranded. In a
panic, they rushed towards the higher areas of Gupkar road and
Rajbhawan. With road and railway links severed, the only way out of
Srinagar was by air. The Agusta helicopter helped form an air bridge
to evacuate stranded people from Nehru helipad and HariNiwas to the
Stranded people waiting for evacuation at Nehru Helipad
Evacuation of Casualties
The helicopter flew several casualties to the airport and to SKIMS,
Soura so as to facilitate emergency treatment.
In the absence of road links, the Agusta helicopter was extensively
used for aerial reconnaissance of areas affected by floods by the
Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues, state government
officials, ministers of the Union Government and other disaster
management experts. This helped in a first-hand assessment of the
situation to plan necessary relief/ recovery action.
Senior state government officials were airlifted by the Agusta
helicopter and placed at different district headquarters to manage
the situation on a war footing.
The Agusta helicopter helped form an air bridge for expeditious
movement of the Chief Minister, his colleagues, state officials
between HariNiwas (the seat of government) and other locations
which needed immediate relief and to have first hand assessment for
them to coordinate with the armed forces and other stake holders.
HariNiwas also formed a control and coordination centre. This
“Agusta” air bridge became the only means to communicate even for
the purpose of sending urgent documents or correspondence including
official mail and written orders.
Airlift of Relief Material
This VIP helicopter was also used to ferry relief material such as
rations, medicine and water arriving at the airport in IAF aircraft
from across the country.
The Agusta helicopter flew a total of 169 sorties airlifting 465
persons, ration, water and medicines.. It operated from the
restricted grounds of HariNiwas. The flying environment was
extremely dense with scores of helicopters busy in rescue and relief
work. Flying under such conditions was a challenging task which
required them to garner all their skill, judgement, airmanship,
physical and mental faculties despite the homes of these state
pilots at Indranagar and Rajbagh were fully submerged. Inspite of
this, the state pilots persisted with their challenging task of
aiding and assisting the state machinery in effective management of