PM talks to Air Chief about Uttarakhand rescue and relief operations

New Delhi, June 26 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday talked to Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall NAK Browne, to extend his condolences to the families of air force personnel who lost their lives during the rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand.

Dr. Singh said that he had full confidence in the force and its capability to overcome this tragedy and continue the arduous task in Uttarakhand.

"Your men have done heroic work in treacherous circumstances and saved thousands of lives", the PM told the Air Chief. The country is grateful to the members of the Armed Forces for their selfless and determined effort in helping the people in the aftermath of the disaster," he added.

Dr. Singh had earlier on Tuesday condoled the loss of life in accident during relief operations in flood ravaged Uttarakhand.

"Our forces are conducting a heroic task in rescue and relief work in Uttarakhand. This accident during relief operations has come as a huge shock to me. My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their lives," said Dr. Singh.

"The nation mourns with me the loss of our heroes whose selfless work has saved thousands of lives. Continuing their work would be the best homage to them," he added.

Air Chief Marshal Browne earlier ion the day said the morale of the force and other security units remains high in spite of the tragedy, and added that the air force and the army has adequate resources on ground to resolve the crisis.

Air Chief Marshal Browne, who was speaking to media after visiting the crash site in Uttarakhand, commended security personnel for their national spirit, and said that the IAF is not going anywhere.

"Morale is still very high...Our rotors will not stop churning", he said.

"What exactly happened, we will know only once we recover MI17 voice data recorder. We have sent commandos to the crash site. We have recovered recording devices and only analysis will reveal the cause of the crash," Air Chief Marshal Browne said.

"We are not ruling out anything, it (crash) could be technical related or weather related," he added.

At least 20 people were killed yesterday as the IAF Mi-17 crashed north of Gaurikund while returning from a rescue mission from Guptkashi and Kedarnath.

The IAF had started inducting Mi-17 V5 choppers only last year after ordering 80 of them from Russia.

This is the second incident of a helicopter crash this week in the hill state.

A private helicopter carrying relief materials for the rain-affected people in Rudraprayag district had crashed on Sunday near Gaurikund leaving the pilot injured. (ANI)

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