IAF res­cues 252 from snow-hit Hi­machal

The Gulf Today - - ASIA -

SHIMLA/MANALI: THE ive-day long air res­cue op­er­a­tion in Hi­machal Pradesh’s La­haul Val­ley came to an end on Satur­day with 252 peo­ple, com­pris­ing largely tourists, be­ing evac­u­ated safely from the snow­ma­rooned re­gion. An­other 4,770 were res­cued by road.

The res­cued in­clude for­eign­ers from Ger­many, Nor­way, Den­mark and Nepal, and a large num­ber of In­dian chil­dren and women.

“The air res­cue op­er­a­tions have been called-off as per the di­rec­tion of the gov­ern­ment of In­dia in the wake of fresh as­sess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion,” An OFI­CIAL state­ment SAID.

State Tribal De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Ram Lal Markanda told re­porters that 80 per cent of the ap­ple crop and 90 per cent elec­tric­ity sup­ply have been dam­aged with the re­cent snow, the heav­i­est since 1955 in the re­gion.

The elec­tric­ity sup­ply in the en­tire La­haul-spiti dis­trict is likely to be nor­malised in 10 days.

Air­lift­ing of tourists by the In­dian Air Force (IAF) was ham­pered on Fri­day af­ter­noon ow­ing to the on­set of snow­fall in the high hills, in­clud­ing Key­long, 122 km north of Manali. Har­jit Singh, a tourist from Chandigarh who was stranded with this fam­ily, said “We were stranded near Bar­alacha Pass for three days with­out food and wa­ter.

Fi­nally, a team of res­cuers came to help us and oth­ers. They took us to a nearby army base camp from where the IAF air­lifted us and gave us a new life.”

Kullu Deputy Com­mis­sioner Yunus Khan told IANS that if there is need, res­cue op­er­a­tion would be car­ried out in the next few days.

As per the as­sess­ment, all peo­ple have been either evac­u­ated or moved to safer places. Some of the stranded peo­ple didn’t pre­fer to leave the place with­out their ve­hi­cles so they have stayed back un­til the roads are mo­torable again, he said.

Khan said the res­cue op­er­a­tion has been car­ried out in three for­mats.

First, the IAF was air­lift­ing the tourists from vul­ner­a­ble spots. Sec­ond, the Bor­der Roads Or­gan­i­sa­tion (BRO) was res­cu­ing the peo­ple by road. And third, the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion was pro­vid­ing lo­gis­tic sup­port to both the IAF and the BRO in res­cu­ing peo­ple.

Work to clear snow from the Ro­htang Pass AND BAR­ALACHA Pass Is In THE inal stage, Khan added.

Two light util­ity he­li­copters were ad­di­tion­ally de­ployed along with three IAF chop­pers, in­clud­ing MI-17, to speed-up the res­cue process in La­haul.

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