Shimla: Seven persons including a child were airlifted by a helicopter deployed in the rescue operation as 300 tourists were stranded at Chandratal, a famous tourist spot at a height of 14,100 feet in tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti.
Another 400 tourists including 14 Russian nationals stranded at Kasol in Kullu are also reported to be safe.
There has been snowfall in the area which has blocked roads and bringing vehicle movement to a halt while there is heavy rains and flooding in the Lahaul area.
“The helicopter made an attempt in the day but could not reach Chandratal due to inclement weather and poor visibility. Later in the day, the attempt proved successful to airlift seven persons ,including a child” informed Additional DPG( CID) Satwant Atwal Trivedi, who is officiating as Director General of police.
Even as the ground attempts made by the team of officials led by Additional Deputy Commissioner Rahul Jain continued during the day, the Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu—who himself did an aerial survey of flood ravaged Manali ordered the deploying of helicopters.
The police control room has been getting frantic calls and messages both on Twitter and Whatsapp from different places inquiring about the wellbeing of “missing” relatives in Himachal Pradesh after rains, flash floods, landslides and disruption of communications.
“ We have contacted more than 200 relatives to inform them about their family members being safe at all the places where the communication has got snapped. The stranded tourists are safe and they are on their way back. Our teams on the ground are providing all assistance. Food and medicines are also being provided” said the officiating DGP.
The Russian embassy has also contacted the police about the stranded 14 Russian nationals at Kasol in Kullu. The police teams have been able to reach out to most of the tourists stranded at Kasol and Tosh and Kulga. Everyone is safe though disruption of mobile phones services and road communication are reasons for their not being able to contact the families back home.
The road link between Manali and Kulli as well as Mandi and Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti remains disrupted as a major portion of the Highway has either got swept away by the flash floods or caved in.
The Chief Minister ,who travelled to Sainj—one of Kullu’s most affected areas, said efforts were underway to restore power fully and thereafter will eventually help in restoring the water supply to Kullu and other places.
Sukhu said the rainfall has broken a 50-year old record in Himachal Pradesh. Massive damage has been caused to infrastructure –roads, bridges, drinking water supply schemes and sewage projects.
” I have briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about an unprecedented situation as he spoke to me on Monday. Our initial estimates show losses of about Rs 4000 crore to physical infrastructure and properties. The toll in the floods and calamities is around 99,” he informed.
Later in the day, the police informed that 400 light vehicles have left from Manali towards Kullu following restoration of Manali-Kullu road via the left bank.
The floods have left Kullu and Mandi districts completely ravaged. Ancient Panchvaktra Temple at Mandi got submerged in the swollen Beas while water entered Manikaran Sahib –a famous Silkh pilgrimage place in Kullu.
Tuesday was the day when rain God provided a much needed relief and bright sun later in the day greeted Shimla ,the town facing a drinking water crisis for the past four days.