The rescue operation underway on the morning of August 30
Twelve friends, who had arrived in the city from Vadodara and hired a guide for a trek to the Kulang Fort in Igatpuri, where they planned to spend a night camping. However, even before they could reach the hilltop, they got lost as the sun set.
They had started climbing the hills on Sunday and were in dense forest when they lost their way. They lost network in their mobile phones and were able to seek help only around 2.45 am on Monday. A team of the Nashik disaster management department reached the hills and instructed them to whistle so that rescuers could locate them. The trekkers were 500 metres from the rescuers. The friends, including five women and eight men, trek frequently and for the Igatpuri camping they had Pramod Anderson, a guide from Mumbai.
Arjun Kurhade, an officer from Nashik disaster management department, said, “Generally trekkers start early in the morning so they can return by evening, before darkness. However, this group started in the afternoon, and decided to camp at the fort and return the next morning. The guide was not a local resident, and their calculation went awry. Due to darkness, they lost their way.”
“The forest area is also dangerous, because there are so many wild animals. They stopped going forward around 10 pm as they were tired as well as scared. They finally got a network in their mobile phones and called their relatives in Vadodara,” he explained.
Kurhade added, “At 2.45 am, I received a call from Nashik police control room that a group of trekkers was stuck inside the forest. I was able to contact one of them, Meena Mishra, and gave them assurances. I told them to not remove their shoes for safety. We also told them to use one mobile phone at a time to save battery. They also found a safe spot to rest and set up tents.”
“We formed our three teams and equipped with searchlights, a 1,000-metre rope and other safety equipment, we started the rescue operation. We could not find their exact location, so we told them to whistle loudly. We finally found them around 9 am and by 12 pm on Monday, they were shifted to a safe place,” Kurhade added.
Vijay Dinesh Solanki, Chelsi Mehul Parmar, Deven Joshi, Madhvi Vamtore, Aakash Vikaykumar Kasore, Neeta Santosh Mishra, Nyas Santosh Mishra, Prabhu Prasad, Glisam Pankaj Royal, Glorious Pankaj Royal, Stelon Subhash Kumar Cristy, Racks Nisan Master and Guide Pramod Anderson.
No. of friends who were part of the trekking group