The Disaster Management Centre requested the assistance of the SLAF for the rescue of five persons who had gone missing the previous evening (12th December) in the Nallathanni forest in the Sri Pada reserve.
A Bell 412 helicopter from No 4 Helicopter Squadron, Ratmalana took off at approximately 1600hours yesterday, (13th December) with a rescue team on board. Despite the heavy fog and the thick forest cover, the crew of the Bell 412 were able to locate the missing individuals before nightfall. However, the forest cover and the conditions made it impossible for the helicopter to deploy its rescue team. With the light and conditions deteriorating, the helicopter proceeded to land at a nearby safe location and transmitted the GPS coordinates to the ground rescue personnel from the Army and the Police.
The Bell 412 was on standby this morning to deploy to the site once more to heli-drop food and supplies until the ground rescue team could reach the victims. Subsequently the disaster management centre confirmed that the ground rescue team had made contact and that the heli-dropping of supplies was not needed. It was also indicated that some of the victims may need to be air lifted for which the aircraft were again kept prepared. However, it was subsequently informed that the casualties were all transported by road.