With the weather clearing up on Thursday search and rescue operation for over 1,000 people, mostly tourists, began early in the Himachal Pradesh hills for the third day.
Two Chetak helicopters additionally deployed along with three the Indian Air Force’s sped up the rescue in the Lahaul Valley in the Middle Himalayas. The rescue operation started at 7 a.m., an official said.
Nearly 500 people were still reported to be stuck in Suraj Tal lake and Zingzing Bar areas along Keylong-Leh road.
Over 300 labourers of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a wing of the Ministry of Defence, involved in construction of roads in forward areas have also been stranded since September 22 following incessant rains that lead to a number of landslides severing road links.
The BRO is making every effort to provide food items and medicines to those still stuck but have somehow been reached.
So far a total of 898 persons have been rescued to safety till Wednesday and they included 12 foreigners, Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda said here.
“Over 700 people have been rescued by road via the Rohtang tunnel in the past two days. We expect to rescue another 200 by road on Thursday,” a senior government functionary monitoring the rescue operation told IANS.
Nanda said packets of eatables have been air dropped at Kunzam Pass.
Most people who got stuck at the Baralacha Pass were travelling to and from Manali to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Wednesday apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state suffered losses totalling approximately Rs 1,250 crore due to the heavy rains.
Modi has assured the state of all possible central assistance.
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloud burst and heavy rains devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24. Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti were the worst affected.
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft) has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply. They have been stranded at number of isolated locations.
The BRO has been clearing the snow from various roads on a war footing. Some stretches had over eight feet of snow.