Sunday, August 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

IAF takes relief to flood-hit areas
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Aug 5 — Relief measures in the flood-affected areas of Kinnaur and Shimla districts were speeded up today with the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters making 11 sorties to airlift essential supplies.

In all, 200 quintals of essential commodities and relief material was transported to Rekong Peo, Sangla and Pooh in Kinnaur.

The electricity supply has been restored in the Nichar and Sangla areas and efforts are on to restore power in other parts of Kinnaur district. Additional staff has been deployed for the repair of damaged power supply within the stipulated time-frame.

Mr A.K. Goswami, Chief Secretary, while reviewing the progress of relief measures, directed officials to accelerate the pace of work with regard to repair of roads, distribution of essential commodities and restoration of power supply to villages.

He said that the road from Nogli to Rampur had been opened for light vehicles today and efforts were on to open it for heavy vehicles shortly. The Wangtoo bridge was safe for vehicular traffic and repair work on approach roads on both sides of the bridge were being carried out on a war footing.

He said mule path on the old Hindustan-Tibet road from Wangtoo to Tapri and Tapri to Kalpa would be restored for journey on foot within a week.

The Chief Secretary directed the Food and Civil Supplies Department to take immediate steps for hiring mules for carriage of essential commodities so that adequate ration could be made available at depots, shops and other distribution points.

Various voluntary organisations have also stepped in to assist the administration in providing relief to flood victims. The RSS has organised a free langar at Rampur and supplied 1000 blankets to affected persons. It is also arranging a truckload of foodgrains from Delhi.

The Student Federation of India and the Democratic Youth Federation of India have also started langars and raised money to help the victims.

The jawans of the Army, the SSB and the ITBP had been the first to come to the aid of the victims. They also recovered half a dozen bodies from the debris in Brow and Jagatkhana.

Meanwhile the All-India Tribes and Minorities Front has urged the Centre to declare the flash flood in the Sutlej as a national calamity. It has also demanded that the cause of the disaster be investigated by the RAW or defence intelligence agencies to ascertain whether it was a natural calamity or the result of a conspiracy.

Mr Mangal Sen Negi, president of the Front, said Tibet fell in the dry zone as such the possibility of a cloudburst was negligible. Thus the ‘conspiracy’ angle should be thoroughly probed.

He also demanded that free helicopter services should be provided to the people of Kinnaur until a road link was restored.


Pilot dies in MiG crash
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 5 — A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed today while taking off from the Delhi airport, killing its pilot Flt Lt S.C. Shukla.

The aircraft, which had been displayed as part of the Kargil “Vijay Diwas” exhibition at the India Gate lawns was on its way back to Chandigarh. The fighter aircraft, which is the fourth in the series of the MiG-21s crashing recently, burst into flames immediately after take-off and crashed on the runway itself.

Air traffic was held up for some time as a result of the crash. Airport officials said traffic was resumed later in the evening after the wreckage was removed from the runway.

Reports said the crash took place at about 1.25 p.m. Flt Lt Shukla was rushed to the Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi Cantonment where he was declared brought dead.

A court of inquiry has also been ordered by the IAF into the crash for which no reason was provided till late in the evening.

This was the first mishap involving an IAF aircraft in Delhi after the crash of an AN-32 transport plane just about 4 km short of Palam airport in 1998.

Fortunately, the aircraft crashed on the runway itself and there were no civilian casualties. Fire tenders arrived on the crash spot, within 10 minutes of the crash and the blaze was soon brought under control. The airport staff claimed that the runway, 29-09, was cleared within an hour.

Eyewitnesses claimed that the aircraft rocked a few times before catching fire and crashing on the runway. Others said they heard a loud explosion and then saw a ball of fire on the runway.

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