Rescue operations resume at Sikkim avalanche scene
Around half-a-dozen vehicles carrying close to 30 tourists to Nathu La pass between Sikkim and Tibet were stuck under the snow when the avalanche hit
Rescue operations resumed on Wednesday at the scene of the avalanche that left at least seven tourists dead in Sikkim a day earlier. They were called off on Tuesday evening due to heavy snowfall.
“...there are no reports of anyone being missing but we are not taking any chances,” said a police officer.
Around half-a-dozen vehicles carrying close to 20 tourists to Nathu La pass between Sikkim and Tibet were stuck under the snow when the avalanche hit. Seven bodies were brought out of the snow and 23 people were rescued alive, including six tourists from a deep valley, on Tuesday.
The rescued tourists from Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Delhi were undergoing treatment. At least eight of them were critical.
Sikkim chief minister Prem Singh Tamang, who was in Gujarat, returned to the state capital Gangtok on Tuesday and met some of the injured tourists at a hospital. He said the state will bear the cost of the treatment for all injured. “Sikkim will also send the bodies of the victims to their respective states.”
The avalanche hit the 14th Mile point on the arterial Jawaharlal Nehru Road, which connects Gangtok to Nathu La pass on the India-China border.
The tourists were taking photographs near a stream when the avalanche hit amid a traffic jam. Local villagers and shop owners were the first to swing into action before the army, disaster management teams, and police joined the rescue operation.
An additional 350 stranded tourists and 80 vehicles were rescued and brought to Gangtok after the snow was cleared from the road.
There has been continuous rain and snowfall from March 31 in areas such as 14th Mile and 15th Mile in Sikkim. Movement of tourists was as a result restricted up to the 13th Mile Point on Jawaharlal Nehru Road.
In March, the army rescued around 400 tourists, including 50 children, in Sikkim after tourist vehicles got stranded due to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches of the Himalayan state.