Subheadline – The tourists were returning from Natu La & Tsomgo (Changgu) Lake when about 100 vehicles got stuck in heavy snowfall, as per a statement by the Indian Army.
The Indian Army successfully rescued more than 1,000 tourists, who were stranded in the upper reaches of East Sikkim at Chhangu following a heavy snowfall the rescued tourists including elderly women and children were rescued.
Earlier on 12th March 2023, the Indian Army collaborated with civil police and administration, they rescued a total of 370 tourists it was stated as per an official release.
“Operation Himrahat”, which continued till late night of 11th March the troops of #TrishaktiCorps rescued and provided assistance; these tourists were also provided with warm food, clothing, shelter along with a medical kit.
According to the statement, the tourists were moved to safe areas and provided shelter, warm clothing, medical aid, and hot meals. Detailed coordination was done with the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) for road opening in the morning, the statement informed further.
The quick reaction by the troops provided relief and comfort to the stranded tourists under inclement weather conditions and ensured early clearance of the road to enable the movement of vehicles to Gangtok, the statement said.
At least 360 tourists, 142 women and 50 children, spent the night at army camps, while several others made it to Gangtok with the help of the army and the police, he explained.
Stranded tourists and the civil administration of Sikkim expressed their gratitude and timely relief provided by the Indian Army while guarding the border in super high – altitude areas of the Himalayas are always proactive in providing assistance to the tourists and the local population, the statement stressed.
Severe snowfall had occurred in areas of Nathu La, Tsomgo Lake and adjoining areas on Saturday afternoon, bringing down the temperature to sub-zero levels.
After the heavy snowfall, the vehicles started skidding on the Jawaharlal Nehru Marg that connects these areas with Gangtok. Altogether, there were approximately 1027 tourists in 120 vehicles, who got stranded over a stretch of 15 kilometers, the army said in a press release.
Army personnel of the Black Cat Division posted in the area intervened, rescued the tourists in army vehicles, and shifted them to a military camp.
“Advice to tourists visiting Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh at this point of time. It is reported between Baishakhi, Sela Pass and Nuranang. Pls get proper information before you move because the road is extremely dangerous to drive and the temperature goes down to -25!” he tweeted. (ANI)
“Altogether, 1,027 tourists got stuck in severe snowfall in areas of Nathu-la, Tsomgo Lake and adjoining areas on Saturday afternoon. It brought down the temperature to sub-zero levels. After the heavy snowfall, vehicles started skidding on the Jawaharlal Nehru Marg that connects these areas with Gangtok. The tourists in around 120 vehicles got stranded over a stretch of 15km,” army sources said.
A tourist from Bangalore, who got stuck due to the snowfall, narrated his experience.
“We had plans to visit Tsomgo Lake, Nathu-la and Baba Mandir but we got stuck a little short of Tsomgo Lake from about 11.30am to 5pm on Saturday in snow. The Indian army came to our rescue. It is because of them that we are safe,” he said.
Another tourist from South 24-Parganas said had the Indian army and Sikkim Police not come to their aid, they would have been in dire straits.
“We walked down a kilometer or two from where our vehicle was stuck. It was very difficult to walk on snow. I slipped and fell many times,” he said.
The Sikkim government is taking no risks. “We will start issuing passes only after the weather improves and the snow clears,” said a Sikkim tourist.