Over 3500 civilian passengers were airlifted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) this winter, officials said Wednesday.
According to officials, keeping in view arduous weather conditions and closure of Srinagar-Leh highway, IAF this winter airlifted 650 persons from Srinagar to Kargil and 887 persons from Jammu to Kargil.
They said IAF also airlifted 423 persons from Kargil to Srinagar and 672 persons from Kargil to Jammu in various aircrafts.
The officials said that most of the airlifted persons were students and people travelling due to health issues.
They said that in addition to the 28 sorties of AN-32 service from Srinagar and Jammu to Kargil, for the smooth airlifting process, four back-to-back air shuttles of C-17 and C-130J were also pressed into service from Srinagar to Leh and Jammu to Leh.
An official said that two IAF aircrafts airlifted 216 Kargil-bound passengers on Wednesday.
He said that 131 passengers were airlifted from Jammu to Leh in two shuttles of C-130 aircraft while 85 passengers were airlifted from Srinagar to Leh in one shuttle of C-130 aircraft on Wednesday.
This winter, the IAF for the first time also operated its Chinook helicopters for civilian use in Zanskar Valley.
A total of 88 persons were airlifted between Padum and Leh in Chinook helicopters while 702 passengers were airlifted in the MI-17 helicopters between Padum and Leh.
Many passengers were also airlifted to Chandigarh by the AN-32 Air Service.