New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday expressed condolence over the deaths of Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel in a helicopter crash, during a rescue operation in the flood-ravaged north-Indian state of Uttarakhand.

"I offer my most profound condolences to the grieving families. I salute the courage and supreme sacrifice of the heroes who laid down their lives in the line of duty," he said in a message to Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne.

"I am proud of the exemplary manner in which the IAF has responded to the challenge of rescuing and saving thousands of lives in the face of the fury of nature and at a time of grave crisis."

He said the IAF's determination to "keep moving on ‘irrespective of the tragedy and until the last stranded pilgrim was rescued is in the finest traditions of the Indian armed forces.’

The President said his thoughts and prayers were with the ‘air warriors’ engaged in rescuing those, who are still stranded by cloudbursts and flash floods in Uttarakhand.

Twenty people were killed when an IAF Mi-17 chopper crashed while returning from a rescue mission on Tuesday.

(Agencies)

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