Journalist dead, two injured as avalanche hits Manali-Rohtang highway

Manali: In a tragic incident a reporter of ANI news agency based at Kullu was buried today at Rahla Nallah fall point on Manali-Rohtang border road after a forceful avalanche hit the place, 29 Kms from here.

Mukesh Kumar, a machine operator of BRO, and Karan, the camera assistant of the ANI reporter, were hurt in the natural calamity that hit the road clearing operation being carried out in the area.

Search operation being carried out: Phot0 - Sanjay Datta
Search operation being carried out: Phot0 – Sanjay Dutta

Mahavir Thakur, deputy director with Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali identified the body of Prem Kumar (28), the  ANI  reporter, whose body was dug out from the avalanche debris.

Prem Thakur, son of   Sonu Ram, was a resident of village Gharakar, near  Kullu on the left bank of  River Beas.

According to eyewitnesses, the reporter and his camera assistant at about 3.30 PM  were shooting the snow clearing operations being carried out  by a JCB machine of BRO,  when suddenly an avalanche gave way and hurtled all three of them down the hill and into the valley.

Personnel from Border Roadways Organisation immediately launched a rescue operation but found the reporter missing.

The machine operator Mukesh Kumar and camera assistant Karan were located in an injured condition about 500 meters downhill from where the road clearing operations were going on. The two were successfully rescued.

A team of experts from Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute  of Mountaineering and Allied Sports Manali that was based at Marhi rescue post was also pressed into service to carry out the rescue operations.

Manali sub divisional magistrate Viney Dhiman said that  the  team of ANI had  crossed the  restricted  area  to take shots as the road was not fit for vehicular  traffic.

Makar Dhwaj Sharma Secretary of Manali Taxi operators’ Union  said that  a  Alto car  with  registration number of Kullu proceeded towards Gulaba area  at about 3.00 PM.

The rescue and search operation for locating the buried reporter was hindered by heavy snowfall in the Rahla Nallah area after the avalanche had hit the place.

Photo: Sanjay Dutta

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Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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