300 tourists from Maharashtra, Rajasthan stranded in snow-bound Himachal rescued
Tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh, including Shimla, Manali, Dalhousie and Kufri, received snowfall overnight, bringing cheer to weekend revellers and the hotel industry.
The heavy snowfall, however, led to 200 vehicles being stranded at various places between Dhalli and Kufri. The Shimla district administration and police launched a joint operation to rescue 300 tourists stuck in the vehicles. Two buses with 90 tourists from Maharashtra were stranded at Galu near Kufri, while two buses with 80 passengers from Rajasthan were struck at Hassan valley in Charabara.
The tourists from Maharashtra had a narrow escape after visiting Kufri on Friday afternoon. They were headed to Manali in the evening when their buses skidded on the snow-laden road at Galu.
The public works department began clearing the snow, while police and district administration sent nine vehicles to rescue them. The tourists from Maharashtra were lodged in nearby cottages and hotels on Friday night, while those from Rajasthan were taken to Dhalli. Some of them stayed at the gurdwara in Chotta Shimla.
Shimla superintendent of police Omapati Jamwal said, “Nearly 80 people stranded in light vehicles were also brought to safer locations.” The passengers also included 35 girl students. The police and the district administration used 4x4 vehicles in the rescue operation.
TRAFFIC TO KUFRI RESTRICTED
After Friday night’s snowfall, the police have restricted the plying of vehicles to Kufri, 14km from Shimla. The road is closed for traffic beyond Dhalli.
National highway 705 that connects Theogh and Hatkoti has been closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall in Kharapathar. “There is 15 inches of snow at Kharapathar,” said Sunil Negi, a sub divisional police officer at Rohru.
State capital Shimla got 8cm of snow in the season’s first snowfall between 5.30pm on Friday and 8.30am on Saturday. The snowfall is expected to continue in the higher and middle hills of the state.
Dalhousie got the highest snowfall of 60cm, while Kufri got 20cm and Manali 10cm. Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district and Kalpa in Kinnaur district received 13 cm of snowfall each.
MORE SNOW FORECAST
State meteorological department director Manmohan Singh said, “Snowfall and rainfall is likely to continue across Himachal Pradesh on Saturday. The middle and higher hills will get snow and rain on Sunday, too. The weather will be dry after December 16.”
The minimum temperature in Shimla, Manali, Dalhousie and Dharamshala was -0.5, -1.8, -0.4 and 2.2 degrees Celsius, while the maximum temperature was 8.2, 5.4, 0.2 and 7.6 degrees Celsius, respectively.
The minimum temperature in Kufri was -3.9 degrees and the maximum zero. The minimum and maximum temperatures in Kalpa were -2.8 and 1.3 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature in Himachal was -5.7 degrees at Keylong, while the highest temperature at 17.5 degree Celsius was recorded in Bilaspur.