21 more rescued from Lahaul-Spiti
The rescue team led by subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Keylong Amar Singh Negi on Monday rescued 21 people including a 12-member team of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) from Chhattru on Chandertal trek in Lahaul-Spiti district. Rescued persons also included seven policemen who were earlier deployed in the area.
Negi said that they have been taken to Koksar and will arrive in Manali by road.
In one of the longest and largest rescue operations of its kind in the state, teams of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Border Roads Organisation (BRO), police and mountaineering experts evacuated more than 4,800 people, mostly tourists, who were stranded at various locations in the Himalayas due to heavy snowfall.
The IAF had deployed five helicopters which airlifted around 250 people from 16,020-feet Baralacha La, Chhatru, Chhota Dara, Rohtang and other remote locations.
A simultaneous ground level rescue operation was carried out by the BRO, Indian Army and state police through Rohtang Tunnel.
Aerial rescue operation was officially closed on September 29, while some ground rescue teams are still in the valley to evacuate people.
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rains snapped several road links from September 22 to 24. Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti districts were the worst affected.
Heavy snowfall on Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft) had cut off the Lahaul and Spiti valleys, affecting a large number of tourists and hampering the water and electricity supply. Tourists were stranded in remote locations as Lahaul and Spitit valley was buried under four to five feet snow.
This was the worst snowfall in Lahaul-Spiti in nearly six decades.
Around 90% apple crop has been damaged in the valley besides a huge loss to road and electricity infrastructure.
Rohtang Pass reopens for traffic
The 13,050-feet high Rohtang Pass on Manali-Leh highway, which was closed for over a week due to heavy snowfall, reopened for tourists on Monday after the completion of snow-clearing operation.
“Rohtang Pass was opened for traffic on Monday afternoon,” Colonel AK Awasthi, Commander, 38 Border Roads Task Force said.
The strategic highway was closed due to early snowfall on higher from September 22 to 24.
Earlier, the BRO had opened the 16,020-feet high Baralacha La for traffic on Sunday.
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