Indian Air Force rescues trekking German couple caught in blizzard

In a difficult mission, Indian Air Force pilots successfully rescued a German couple who were stuck in snow squall in Lahaul-Spiti region of the Himalayas.

The couple, Michael and his wife Annettee, were trekking from Ringdum to Dibling in Himachal Pradesh when they were caught in a blizzard.

For two days, incessant snowfall prevented any movement and by then the couples’ supplies had run out. Michael decided to activate his Personal Rescue Beacon (PRB) as a last resort.

An Indian Air Force facility received the message and deployed Siachen Pioneers Helicopter unit based at Leh for the rescue mission.

Two helicopters piloted by Wg Cdr Dey and Wg Cdr Pradhan of the Siachen pioneers got airborne at 6 am on September 25 and headed in the probable direction of the PRB, but on initial approach did not find anything.

“We went back to where the footprints had started and worked our way backwards. A little ahead we found a grey protrusion which initially looked like a rock face, but on closer inspection found the edges to be flapping due to wind. Soon Michael came out of the tent, which we thought was a rock and waved to us” said mission leader Wg Cdr Dey.

“The site was on an incline of 35-45 degrees and we could not land the helicopter. I held on a low hover and my co-pilot jumped out to ascertain that these were the people we were looking for and their medical condition.”

The pilots picked up the couple and flew them to a medical facility on Leh. Though Michael had developed a frost bite, the couple are recovering well.