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August 13, 2012

IAF copter evacuates ailing French female moutaineer from Ladakh’s Padam Valley

     New Delhi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter has been successful in evacuating a French national, who was stranded in Ladakh’s Padam Valley. Mrs. Barbier was rescued from the higher reaches of Padam Valley in the Zanskar ranges of Ladakh; an area that beckons mountaineers and trekkers from across the globe. A senior member of the French trekking expedition, Mrs.Barbier, suffered from acute mountain sickness while on a trek to the higher Zanskar ranges. According to an IAF release, her condition could have easily deteriorated into High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO), a threatening condition that can only be averted by early evacuation to lower altitudes and immediate medical attention. The expedition requested the Indian Air Force headquarters at Delhi for emergency air rescue through their embassy. The Leh-based IAF Helicopter Unit received a message on the night of 11 August for the evacuation of Mrs. Barbier. Aircrew were immediately briefed about the rescue mission. Two helicopter rescue teams got airborne on the morning of 12 August. The rescue team, which comprised of Wing Commander AS Abhyankar, Squadron Leader Sukhdeep Singh and Flight Lieutenant Maneesh Singh, led by Squadron Leader S Agnihotri, braved steep valleys, and accurately navigated their way to the point where a critically ill Mrs. Barbier was stranded. Squadron Leader S Agnihotri manoeuvred his helicopter to land in the restricted area with marginal reserve of power. The casualty was taken onboard at the earliest. The rescue act was executed with precision and the highest level of professionalism.
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