Himachal seeks army help, 500 stranded in Lahaul-Spiti

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Himachal Pradesh government on Tuesday sought an immediate help from the Indian army to take-up an aerial operation to rescue nearly 500 tourists including 45 students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee who were stranded at two different locations in Lahaul-Spiti district across 13059 feet Rohtang Tunnel after heavy snowfall in past 24 hours.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur who flew to Kullu this morning alongwith a team of senior officials, beside two cabinet ministers –Govind Thakur (Transport and forest) and Dr Ram Lal Markanda (Agriculture ) said nearly 300 tourists were stranded at Kokar and another 200 at Baracha La .Efforts were underway to organise a rescue operation and airlift the tourists.Tere is also a report of one person having died ,he said.

Himachal Pradesh  witnessed massive rains in past four days, resulting in eight deaths and massive destruction of public and private property. More than 160 roads and Chandigarh –Manali National Highway have remained closed .

Landslides  also resulted in obstruction of Pawarnoo-Shimla National Highway briefly while district administration deploy massive machinery to clear the debris. A major portion of the Highway ,which is undergoing four-lanning work also caved in on Monday evening

Three districts –Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba have been worst affected by the rains and flash floods .

Three Indian airforce helicopters have reaced Kullu for rescue of all stranded tourists.

Deputy Commissioner Kullu Yunus said 45 students of IIT Roorkee were safe. They  had gone trekking in Himachal Pradesh’s mountainous Lahaul and Spiti district

“The group of 50 trekkers which includes IIT-Roorkee students are safe,”  Chief Minister told Tehelka.

Jairam Thakur said this is first time after 1955 that Lahaul-Spiti had witnessed snow fall throwing the life out of gear. This has caught the goverment totally unaware. The Rohtang Pass also remains closed .

Reports said two foreign nationals, who were caught in a bad weather on Monday  in Lahaul-Spiti were rescued by the Air Force.

In all 45 deaths have taken place in Himachal Pradesh since July 2018 due to monsoon rains.