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5 IAF Planes Pressed into Service for Quake Relief

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With a major earthquake rocking mountaneous state of Sikkim, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday spoke to its chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and offered help in all possible ways, including availability of defence forces.

The Prime Minister directed Cabinet Secretary to call an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority, PMO sources said.

The Prime Minister spoke to the Chief Minister soon after an earthquake of 6.8 intensity hit the state, causing extensive damage in the state.

During the conversation with the CM, the Prime Minister offered all possible help, including making available defence forces for rescue and relief operations.

Five IAF aircraft have been pressed into service for relief operations in quake-hit Sikkim where at least two persons died in the tremors.

Two persons were killed and 33 received minor injuries in Sikkim as an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale with its epicentre on Sikkim-Nepal border shook northeast and the northern parts of the country on Sunday evening.

Of the five aircraft being pressed into service, two C-130J Hercules aircraft have been deployed from Hindon to Bagdogra airbase, while two AN-32 aircraft along with another Avro aircraft have been sent for the earthquake relief operations in Sikkim, an Indian Air Force spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that helicopters, if required, could be sent from Eastern Air Command areas for the relief operations.

A government spokesman, however, said while one aircraft is pressed into service from Palam to Bagdogra and one from Kolkata to Bagdogra, along with personnel of the National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) and equipment, for the relief operations.

From Bagdogra airbase, the spokesman added, the NDRF would go by road which is being facilitated by the Border Security Force (BSF) and the West Bengal Government.


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