IIT-Roorkee students among 249 rescued; over 300 still stranded

Shimla, Sep 25 (IANS) A group of 40-45 students of IIT-Roorkee, five residents of Kolkata and two German trekkers were among 249 persons rescued on Tuesday from the icy heights of Himachal Pradesh in a joint operation by the district administration and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), officials said.
Over 300 people are still stuck, sources said.

A majority of the rescued are stranded in Sissu in the Lahaul Valley as landslides triggered by heavy snow damaged the road links to Manali, official sources said.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will start airlifting the stranded people, comprising locals and tourists, believed to be around 300, on Wednesday morning. They will be brought to Manali and Kullu towns.

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They have been stranded for the past two-three days at various locations in and around district headquarters Keylong after the onset of heavy snow that hampered road links. All are safe and have been provided accommodation and eatables, officials said.

“Nearly 45 students of IIT-Roorkee were taken to an Army base camp at Sissu from where they were brought to Manali via Rohtang tunnel,” an official told IANS over phone from Manali.

He said most of the stranded people were brought to Keylong, some 121 km from Manali, and from there would be either airlifted by the IAF or brought to Manali by road on Wednesday.

“The priority in airlifting will be given to old, sick and women,” he added.

A government spokesperson here advised tourists not to venture into remote areas of the state as chances of snow were still high.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur visited Kullu town to take stock of the rehabilitation and rescue operations being undertaken by the state government.

He also took an aerial survey of the Lahaul Valley up to Chandertal to access the damage caused by untimely snow.
Thakur said the state has suffered a loss of over Rs 1,230 crore in the last four days. He said the state has urged the Union government to provide liberal assistance to the state.
The Chief Minister said he spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman regarding the natural calamity.

He said three IAF helicopters have been provided to evacuate the tourists.

 Earlier, an official statement said 200 people have been stranded at Koksar and about 300 in Baralacha Pass.

Traffic to picturesque Himachal tourist resort Manali was restored partially on Tuesday, a day after all major road links snapped after landslides triggered by heavy rains, officials said.