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7 bridges restored, foreigners back from 14,000ft

The Indian Express (11 August 2010) download article in PDF format - Working towards restoring connectivity to the Ladakh region, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has reconstructed seven of the 13 bridges that were washed away in the flash floods and is likely to reopen the Leh-Kargil road within a few days. While continuing regular sorties to evacuate foreign tourists stuck in the region, the Air Force rescued 28 foreign nationals, including two children from the Rumste monastery, located at a height of over 14,000 feet.

While the BRO is engaged in restoring surface connectivity, an Air Force aircraft carried a 6.5 tonne generator for BSNL that has helped restarting limited mobile connectivity of the service provider in Leh city. “Airlifting of the BSNL equipment was foremost on the list of priorities to restore normalcy for ease of operations and coordination among agencies engaged in relief activities. In addition, two bulldozers and excavators (JCB) each were also airlifted by IAF IL-76s,” Wing Commander T K Singha, IAF Spokesperson, said.

The Air Force, which is operating Cheetah helicopters to evacuate “ill and dehydrated foreigners” from inaccessible areas adjoining Leh, also airlifted seven tourists from Marko valley, besides the 28 from Rumste, in 40 rescue sorties. “The Army also evacuated nine foreigners stranded at Bimah to Kargil,” Singha said.

The Army provided relief to the villages of Phyang and Thanyang, which had been totally cut off, on Tuesday evening when water bowsers and vehicles carrying food reached the villages. Earlier, Army helicopters had airlifted dry and fresh ration including medicines to the villages on Tuesday. The Army has currently deployed 18 columns of troops for relief activities in Leh region.