Wednesday 21 August 2019, 11:20 PM
'Buried under avalanche, help came from the sky'
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 2/27/2012 12:00:00 AM
'Buried under avalanche, help came from the sky'

Srinagar : Trapped in his relative's house after a massive avalanche buried the village, Abdul Rafique Lone had given up all hopes of survival when he heard the sound of a helicopter and saw a soldier jumping off it on a risky rescue mission.

"We were at the mercy of God and had little hope of survival. Every passing minute brought death closer and closer. Gradually, we were getting physically and mentally numb," recalled Lone, according to the details released by the army Monday.

Lone, who was staying with his relative at Sitkari village, off Sonamarg hill station, said Sonamarg witnessed heavy snowfall and strong winds Feb 22 and by late afternoon, the village was buried under a massive avalanche. He was stuck inside the house, with no way to move out.

"On the morning of Feb 24 at around 9 a.m., we heard the distant hum of a helicopter approaching us. I struggled to get out of the house and realised that it was an army rescue team, looking for survivors. I waved my arms to get their attention and fortunately they spotted me."

The helicopter could not land due to unstable snow that was more than 15 feet thick.

"I saw an army personnel jumping out of the helicopter into the snow. He made his way over to me and said that he was Major Khati, who was here to rescue us," said Lone.

A paratrooper from the 81 Mountain Brigade, Major Khati, with Rafique's assistance, located and pulled out eight more people who were trapped under the snow close by.

After ensuring that no one was injured, the officer gathered the survivors and set out to beat down the unstable snow to make it safe for the helicopter to land.

From this makeshift helipad, the survivors were airlifted in three sorties. Major Khati left the area only after the last of the survivors had been evacuated.

The nine survivors said they would "forever be grateful to the brave soldiers and pilots of the Indian armed forces, especially to Major Khati who risked his own life to save ours".

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'Buried under avalanche, help came from the sky'

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