Visa’s expire, flights cancelled, restless to get
Shimla: Stranded foreign tourists are a restless lot in Tabo, a world heritage site, as they have been living without electricity for over a week, the water supply is polluted and there is hardly any communication links with the outer world as the authorities grapple to restore road connectivity to the region.
There is absolutely no communication from the authorities about what is being done to restore road links, over phone said Stevens Payson, a US national holed up at the over 1000 year old monastery for over a week.
“There is no electricity, the water supply is polluted and skeletal telecommunication link between here and anywhere,” said Payson. Those stranded include, Americans, South Americans, Europeans and people from other nationalities, he revealed.
His wife, Kamal Kapur, a famous writer said, “Nobody is telling us when the road will open or from which side it will open.” No official or doctor has visited us, she added.
The area remains cut-off since September 18, when an unusual early snowstorm lashed the high altitude region depositing over 5 feet of snow at Kunzam Pass.
“There are about 150 foreigners stranded in Spiti Valley,” said Vikas Shukla, the officiating head administrative official at Kaza. Efforts are on to open the road from both ends but it will take another day or two, he said.
All foreigners and Indians tourists are safe. One porter with German tourists died in Pin Valley, said Shukla
While the Kunzam Pass has been cleared of snow but the link between Chatru and Kunzam is yet too established, said Shukla. The road from Kaza to Tabo is also blocked and so is the Kinnaur â€“ Tabo road blocked at the moment, he said.
It will take another day or two to open up the roads, said Shukla
The air force Chetak helicopters that were requisitioned on Wednesday airlifted 4 Belgians and have left back to their base stations, said Col Lalji the coordinating army officer at Sasse helipad in Kullu.
On Thursday, a larger MI helicopter airlifted 12 foreigners from Kaza which included 8 Belgians. The Belgians had managed to get in touch with their embassy in Delhi, who did approach the central government for the chopper service.
Col Lalji, disclosed that the rescue operation was being conducted by the Air force headquarter on the request of the state government.
Most of the foreigners stranded were getting restless as their travel schedules had simply collapsed. Some have missed their flights back home, visa’s of some have expired and one Italian women in her 50’s was restless and intended to undertake a dangerous trek over Malling Nallah so as to get out of the valley, said Payson.
Shukla said that the irrigation and public health engineer at Tabo has been asked to brief the foreigners trapped there about the efforts being made to open the road.
He added that about 105 people from Batal had been rescued with the help of Losar Youth club, transport, PWD and police personnel.