The Air Force has launched a massive rescue operation in Uttarakhand's Lamkhaga Pass at an altitude of 17,000 feet where 17 trekkers, including tourists, porters, and guides, lost their way on October 18 due to heavy snowfall and inclement weather. 11 bodies have been recovered so far from the area leading to the Lamkhaga Pass - one of the most treacherous passes connecting the Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh with Harsil in Uttarakhand.
The Indian Air Force responded to an SOS call made by authorities on October 20 and deployed two Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) choppers to reach Harsil - a tourist hill station in the state.
The search and rescue began on October 20 with three personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) onboard the ALH craft at its maximum permissible altitude of 19,500 feet in the afternoon.
The next day, an ALH was airborne again at first light with State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel onboard who were finally able to locate two rescue sites. It inducted the rescue team at an altitude of 15,700 feet where four bodies were found.
The helicopter then reached another location and winched up a survivor at an altitude of 16,800 feet who was unable to move.
On October 22, the ALH took flight at daybreak. The crew managed to rescue a survivor and bring back five dead bodies from a height of 16,500 feet in four shuttles despite unfavorable terrain and strong wind conditions.
Two more bodies have been located and are being brought back by a joint patrol of Dogra Scouts, 4 Assam, and two ITBP teams on foot to the Nithal Thach camp. A search to locate and rescue the remaining missing individuals will be undertaken by the ALH crew Saturday.
The rescue teams have handed over the bodies to the local police. The survivors were administered first aid at Harsil before they were sent to the district hospital in Uttarkashi.