Manhunt in unseasonal snow to evacuate 300 stranded tourists

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A manhunt has been launched for 300 Tourists at the 14100-ft Chandertal glacial lake in the Spiti valley of Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday who are stranded after unseasonal snowfall since July 9.

Deputy Commissioner District Lahaul Spiti Rahul Kumar informed on Monday evening that 300 people are stranded in Chandratal and would be rescued on Tuesday morning as soon as the weather cleared.

Among the victims of unseasonal weather who would be evacuated on Tuesday are 262 people from other states, including similarly foreign nationals. Among the foreigners, two are from Ireland, and one is from the USA.

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Kumar said that all these people are safe. District Superintendent of Police Mayank Chaudhry succeeded in tracing the camping site of stranded Tourists on July 9, 2024, as a police party, including some mountaineers, succeeded in establishing contact with them.

The rescue operation started at 0500 hrs on Tuesday to bring down the trapped People from Chandertal. The first team left for Chandertal from Losar with machinery last evening, while the second team, headed by ADC Rahul Jain, left from Kaza this morning. The team opened the 13-kilometre road on the first day. The rescue was stopped last night as it continued to snow in the area.

A rescue team of about 40 people, including youths from Pangmo and Losar villages, as well as youths from other villages in Spiti.

According to Kaza-based Public Relations Department spokesperson Ajay Banyal, the snowbound road to be opened from Kunzum Top to Chandertal is four kilometres behind, with 30 kilometres leading to the lake blocked by snow. He said that the administration has involved Members of the Spiti Administration, ITBP, BRO, and Police in the rescue team.

He said that 300 tourists were traced in the Snowfall at the camping site on Sunday evening, but since it was snowing heavily, the administration continued to ask the victims to stay safely in the campsite after providing food and communication facilities for them to speak to their relatives.

Banayal said that due to no mobile signal at the tourist destination, tourists as well as the rescue team could not connect.

Officiating state DGP Satwant Atwal also informed on Sunday that two hundred tourists who were camping at Chandertal Lake in the Lahaul-Spiti district in inclement weather conditions were rescued and kept in safer places.

SP said that due to poor telephone signal, tourists are not able to call their family members therefore, police asked the camping party to ensure that family members of stranded tourists be informed that all of them are safe and being evacuated soon.

Moreover, the rescue team and camping party have made arrangements for safe shelter and food for all standard people, and all are safe and will be brought down shortly.

Down to Earth, a Nature and Environment magazine reported that the Lahaul-Spiti district received 3640 per cent excess rain and snowfall on July 9, and the state got 1193 per cent excess precipitation.

The magazine claimed that the 13500 ft high Losar village received snowfall for the first time in July. The district received 112.2 millimetres ( mm ) of rain on July 9, compared to the 3 mm that it should have received.

The last time a record was broken in the area was in 1951 when Lahaul-Spiti recorded 73 mm of rainfall in 24 hours. Usually, Lahaul-Spiti receives 131.5 mm of rainfall in July.

DTE warned that unprecedented rainfall in the district, considered one of the three cold deserts of the country is something that has added to the concerns of climate experts.

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