Rescue teams air dropped into Kinnaur disaster zone

Shimla: Disaster rescue forces have been airdropped into landlocked Kinnaur district to carry out rescue and relief operation as much of the regions remains cut-off from any road network; is without power as lines at many places stand snapped; and there is no mobile telephony network because of non-availability of power for the last three days.

TG Negi, the principal advisor to the chief minister who was evacuated from Sangla valley after being stranded for three days today let Hill Post know, “never before has the valley seen such torrential rains for such a long time.”

He said that landslides had damaged many houses, farm lands at many places had been washed away and people at many places had been shifted to secure government buildings, where a community kitchen had been made operation to feed the refugees.

Heavy June snow in Pooh valley
Heavy June snow in Pooh valley

There is no power or phone connectivity in the region. Chitkul, higher up in Sangla valley, was said to have experience more than 2 feet of snow, said Negi.

Summer snowfall had also been reported from Pooh, Nako and other higher regions of Kinnaur. The apple crop is many places has been damaged.

“Tourists from many places are stranded in Sangla valley and other places all over Kinnaur, which has been declared a disaster zone,” said Negi.

Freak heavy snow at Pooh
Freak heavy snow at Pooh

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who was also stranded in Sangla for the past three days was evacuated by helicopter today. Negi was also a passenger on the helicopter sortie that evacuated the chief minister from the disaster zone

Virbhadra riding a heavy duty machine in Sangla
Chief minister Virbhadra riding a heavy duty machine in Sangla valley

Meanwhile the district administration has pressed into service two Air Force and one state helicopter to carry out rescue and relief in the rain battered high altitude district.

Two teams of National Disaster Rescue Force have reached Rekong to conduct relief and rescue operations, said JM Pathania, district commissioner who is heading the operations said.

He said that 110 tourists from district headquarters Recong Peo and Sangla valley had been airlifted. About 500 tourists were still stranded in Sangla, said Pathania.

Heavy duty road clearing machinery had been pressed into service to clear the Indo-Tibet border highway.

Though preliminary estimates have put the losses at over Rs 50 crore but Pathania said they would only be calculated after a detailed survey of private and public property damages incurred.

For convenience of tourists and relatives of those stranded in the disaster zone, the district administration has set up a toll free helpline number 1077.

Photo: Amit

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