President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday condoled the death of Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel in a helicopter crash during a rescue mission in 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 N.A.K. 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 still stranded by cloudburst and flash floods in Uttarakhand.
Twenty people were killed when an IAF Mi-17 chopper crashed while returning from a rescue mission Tuesday.