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Himachal disaster area is death trap, says survivor

india Updated: Jun 20, 2013 19:46 IST
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A TV journalist working with Doordarshan who was rescued today after having been stranded for four days in a landslide-hit part of Himachal Pradesh said the area was now a death trap.

"There is no water and electricity. The entire communication has been snapped since Sunday," Doordarshan's news editor Nandini Mital said here after arriving from Pooh, 320 km from here, by an IAF chopper.

Mital was rescued by the Indian Air Force along with two colleagues and a few tourists. Rampur is the base camp for rescue operation.

She complained that no relief and rescue team from the state government or the National Disaster Management Authority had reached Pooh.

"This was the first fight to Pooh in four days. Every morning we were told to reach the helipad. Every day we were told to come the next day," she said.

Like her, 50-odd tourists mainly from Punjab and Chandigarh were stuck there, she added.

"There was no government functionary to assist the stranded people. The locals were benevolent. They provided food and shelter to us. There was no air dropping of essential items. The ration with the locals will last only five or six days", she revealed.

Mital's team was on an official assignment when they were caught in torrential rains near Khab, the cold desert close to the China border.

According to her, the national highway 22 which passes through Pooh was severally damaged at several locations due to landslips and rains. She said she and the others were told to reach Pooh from Khab to board the helicopter.

"After leaving behind our vehicle, we reached Pooh on foot by covering over 15 km. In Pooh there was no government official to guide us. Finally, we took the help of an army unit," she said.

She said the entire stretch of the highway between Khab and Pooh had been wiped out.

"Even the entire standing crops of peas and wheat have been damaged due to untimely snow. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) officials told us that it would take a month and a half to restore normal traffic on the Hindustan-Tibet Road," she said.

Official sources said three helicopters were deployed on Thursday after the heavy rainfall stopped to evacuate tourists stranded across Kinnaur.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, also stranded in Sangla for over 60 hours, was airlifted on Tuesday.

Legislator Jagat Singh Negi said the maximum damage to property - both government and private - in the district was reported from Pooh block due to snow.

He said in certain areas most roads and bridges have been wiped out.

"The government has released Rs.3.5 crore as calamity relief fund," he added.