Army rescues stranded tourists in Sikkim, second time in 12 days
The Indian Army said it rescued hundreds of tourists from Lachung Valley in north Sikkim on Wednesday night, just 12 days after it carried out the biggest rescue operation in the state after heavy snowfall stranded more than 3,000 tourists in the Nathula area.
“In yet another swift humanitarian operation, Indian Army rescued over 150 stranded tourists amidst heavy snowfall in North Sikkim, saving precious lives in sub-zero temperatures,” Colonel SJ Tiwari said in a statement.
The army soldiers reached out to the stranded tourists, most of them from West Bengal, in just four hours. A woman with a fractured hand was given immediate medical care among many others who complained of dizziness, breathlessness and other high altitude related symptoms, said the army statement.
The tourists were provided food, shelter and medical care at the army’s camps.
“We had never seen such a snowfall in our life and the army rescued us when we had lost our hope,” a tourist, whose wife suffered a hand fracture, said.
Also read: Darjeeling, Gangtok receive snowfall after a decade; tourists stranded in Nathula
North Sikkim district collector Karma R Bonpo said the snowfall on Wednesday was unprecedented and cut off the popular tourist destinations in Lachung Valley in a span of two hours. The continuous snowfall sent temperatures crashing below minus 10 degrees Celsius.
“Roads above places like Lachung and Lachen are still closed and the army and the civil administration joined the rescue operation,” Bonpo said.
“On Thursday, tourists would not be allowed to move further North from Lachen and Lachung,” he said.
Though many of the rescued tourists were brought down to places like Gangtok, 42 of them were still with the army till Thursday morning. Vehicles carrying them were stuck because of the snow and the army may keep them for some more time.
On December 28, the army evacuated more than 3,000 stranded tourists from Nathula area above 13,000 ft in the biggest ever rescue operation carried out in Sikkim. They were brought down to 9,000 ft where they spent a night in barracks vacated by the soldiers.