26 stranded tourists airlifted from Himachal by Indian Air Force

Published: Sep 28, 2018, 09:51 IST | IANS

The total number of people rescued since September 24 rose to over 1,350, including over 30 foreigners

26 stranded tourists airlifted from Himachal by Indian Air Force
Stranded tourists being brought to Kullu after they were rescued by the Indian Air Force from snow-bound Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Pic/PTI

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday resumed its rescue operation on the fourth day and airlifted 26 people from Himachal Pradesh's snow-marooned Lahaul Valley. They were stranded for nearly a week in Chotta Dara near the Kunzum Pass area.

The total number of people rescued since September 24 rose to over 1,350, including over 30 foreigners. Most of them were stranded at various locations in the Himalayas for the past six days with heavy snowfall in the region triggering massive landslides that snapped road links in the Lahaul-Spiti district since September 22.

Snow clearing operation have been in full swing by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to restore the road link between the Baralacha Pass and district headquarters Keylong. It was estimated that a large number of tourists and truckers were stranded near the Baralacha Pass. Another large group was reported to be stuck in Suraj Tal Lake and Zingzing Bar areas along Keylong-Leh road.

Two light utility helicopters Cheetah were additionally deployed on Thursday along with the three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed up the rescue in Lahaul. State Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda said the task of rescuing 200-300 people stranded in the Saruchu and Darcha by air was being carried out on war footing.

In order to know the whereabouts of those trapped near the Chandratal Lake, a team of rescuers led by Additional District Magistrate Vikram Singh Negi reached the lake area after 16 hours of trek on Thursday, Markanda said.

At least 45 tourists and others stranded in the Chandratal Lake were transported to safer places, besides 13 tourists were airlifted. Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rains devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.

Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft) has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply. Weather conditions improved on Thursday.

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