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Sikkim: 1,225 stranded tourists evacuated so far

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Gangtok: As evacuation efforts enter day three on Wednesday, officials confirm that 1,225 of travellers stranded in Sikkim’s Lachung have been rescued so far.

“Till Tuesday evening altogether 1,225 tourists, who reached Lachung from different parts of the country for travelling, have been evacuated after they were stuck on the higher region from June 12 following rainstorms and landslides,” one of the official said.

The evacuation was taken up jointly by the Indian Army, Border Roads Organisation, Sikkim Police, NDRF, DMG, local people and other stakeholders in the tourism industry — a cash rich business since this landlocked state was thrown open for the travellers in early 90s.

“Under the directives of District Magistrate Hem Kumar Chettri, ADM Mangan Vishu Lama, SP Mangan Sonam Detchu Bhutia, BDO Mangan Kailash Thapa along with officials from all line departments as well as BRO, NDRF, SDRF, local panchayats and volunteers continue their efforts and coordination to help tourists crossover slides with safety and caution,” a media release said.

Lachung, virtually a border village of north Sikkim situated at an altitude of 9,600 ft or 2,900m from sea level has become a prime attraction for the people living in the plains during summer as the area normally is covered with snow during winter. It is some 115 km north of Gangtok and a very strategic location for the India defence because the other side is China.

“As informed by ADM Mangan, a total of 1,225 tourists reached Mangan today (Tuesday). With vehicles provided by the Motor Vehicle Division under the Transport department, the tourists were able to cover distance in cars where it was traversable.

“The rescued tourists expressed their gratitude to the state government, the administration, BRO, NDRF, SDRF and the locals for taking care of them and bringing them to safety,” release added.

” Evacuation by air will be possible only if the weather permits, for which 6 MI helicopters are on standby at Bagdogra,” it added.

The district administration remains vigilant and prepared to tackle any challenges that may arise, it said.

The evacuation of tourists stranded in North Sikkim since June 12/13 commenced on June 17. “Troops of Trishakti Corps are assisting in a big way to speed up the relief operations conducted by civil administration.

“Due to the large number of landslides, the tourists are being moved on foot and by vehicle in the stretches wherever connectivity exists,” a defence statement said.

” Working under challenging weather and terrain conditions, the signallers of the Indian Army helped BSNL & Airtel restore mobile connectivity on June 18.

“Since June 12, Indian Army installed more than half a dozen telephone booths to facilitate locals and tourists to connect with their relatives.

“Medical teams have set up medical aid booths & have been providing medical care to the needy residents & tourists. So far, more than 115 persons have been provided with medical attention including a lifesaving emergency distress call of one 24-year-old at Lachung suffering from High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema & Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome,” the statement said.

All the needy people have been provided with basic requirements of rations and other logistics support to sustain in this critical time, the Indian Army said.

” The Indian Army engineers are providing assistance to BRO by providing manpower and stores to restore connectivity. The Indian Army is steadfast in its commitment to ensure safe evacuation of all stranded tourists & local population,” Lt Col Mahendra Rawat said.

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