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81 rescued on Day-4 from Lahaul & Spiti

Divisional commissioner (central zone, Mandi) Vikas Labru informed as many as 191 people, including 30 foreigners, have been airlifted from the valley in the last four days.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2018 09:09 IST
Naresh Kumar/Roop Upadhyay
Naresh Kumar/Roop Upadhyay
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala/Mandi
Lahaul & Spiti,rescue operation,tourists
Indian Air Force helicopter airlifting the stranded tourists and others during a rescue operation at Chhota Dara in Lahaul and Spiti district on Friday.(HT Photo)

As many as 81 people, mostly tourists, were rescued by the Indian Air Force (AIF) helicopters from the various locations of the snow-marooned Lahaul and Spiti district on Friday.

As the rescue operation entered its fourth day, in an early morning operation IAF helicopters airlifted 26 people from Chhatru and Chhota Dara. The rescued included six bikers, three of whom were women, from Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and Rajkot.

Over 30 people, who were stranded for nearly a week in Chotta Dara near the Kunzum Pass area, were airlifted later in the day.

Divisional commissioner (central zone, Mandi) Vikas Labru informed as many as 191 people, including 30 foreigners, have been airlifted from the valley in the last four days.

Two light utility helicopters Cheetah have been additionally deployed by IAF along with the three already deployed helicopters, he said, adding that a ground-level rescue operation by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is also on.

Kullu deputy commissioner Yunus Khan said at least 37 people were rescued from the 16,020-foot high Baralacha La Pass by road on Friday. While around 1,200 people have been rescued through Rohtang Tunnel so far. Most of them were stranded for the past six days at various locations in the Himalayas due to heavy snowfall. Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rains snapped several road links from September 22 to 24. Kullu and Lahaul & Spiti districts were the worst affected.

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 the water and electricity supply.

Labru said a 10-member technical team of HP State Electricity Board Limited (HPSEBL) landed at Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul & Spiti district, on Friday along with electric transformers to step up the restoration of electricity supply.

Skiers rescue five people

In a daring operation, two professional skiers from Manali, Joginder Thakur and Praveen Sood, rescued five people who were stuck in their vehicles at a location away from Baralacha La Pass, where the helicopter could not reach.

Thakur and Sood were air-dropped at Baralacha La by an IAF helicopter from where they skied for around five kilometres to reach the stranded people, including a woman and a seven-year-old child. They brought the stranded people to the helicopter.

The duo was also involved in the rescue of a BRO jawan who was buried in an avalanche at Rohtang in February, earlier this year.

Weather takes a turn, operation partially hampered

Meanwhile, the aerial rescue operation was partially hampered in the late afternoon owing to the onset of snowfall. The higher reaches in Lahaul & Spiti experienced fresh snowfall, partially hampering the rescue operation at Baralacha La Pass and other locations, said the Kullu DC, adding that operation will continue on Saturday.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 22:40 IST