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Stranded tourists airlifted
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

The first batch of tourists waiting to board a helicopter at Rekong Peo, Kinnaur, on Tuesday.
The first batch of tourists waiting to board a helicopter at Rekong Peo, Kinnaur, on Tuesday.
— Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Rekong Peo (Kinnaur), June 28
Victims of the Sutlej fury Anne and her friend Isabella, had being waiting for 48 hours to be airlifted out of this place located 250 km from Shimla. Their wait ended this afternoon when the two women along with 15 other foreigners were “rescued” by helicopters.

Similar evacuations are being carried out in the Sangla valley and Pooh. Giving a relieved smile the two boarded the helicopter saying “ Happy to be going back but we were taken care off and hope to come back sometime.”

Unlike these two women everybody here does not have a happy story to tell. It may take upto four to five days for all the tourists to be airlifted out of this remote but picturesque Himalayan region to be dropped at Rampur or Shimla.

Ram Avtar, who works in the Delhi Police, and Dev Dutt from Najafgarh, New Delhi, may not find their way into the chopper till tomorrow. The dictum of rescue operations: “ women and children first” has to be followed.

However, in the present case foreigners have been given preference. Officials admitted that foreign tourists along with those critically ill were being given preference.

About 300 tourists are still “trapped” as these areas have been cut off from the rest of world after the Sutlej flooded the area washing away roads and bridges. Helicopters of the Indian Air Force and also the Himachal Pradesh Government carried out sorties today.

A Tribune team reached here on board a helicopter of the Himachal Pradesh Government

Another set of unlucky persons are those who drove in their own cars to these destinations to beat the summer heat . The cars cannot be driven out of these land locked valleys in the absence of roads.

Since it is estimated that the roads cannot be opened for three to four months the District Administration has asked the people to park their cars at the Ramlila ground here and Government guest house at Sangla. “We will provide round the clock security. Home guards have been posted,” claimed the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Mandeep Singh from Ludhiana’ who has come here on a Mahindra Bolero with his family, said: “ Coming back to get my car will be a task in itself as it takes about 14 hours of driving from Ludhiana.”

Tourists have also been trapped at the world famous Nako located 80 km from here on the Rekong Peo-Kaurik road. Big choppers cannot land at Nako. Some tourists have walked to the Army base at Pooh and are waiting to be airlifted, said the Deputy Commissioner of Kinnaur, Mr Amandeep Garg. The IAF has been asked to send in its smaller Cheetah helicopters, which can seat two to three people. Tents and Kerosene stoves have been sent out to Pooh for people coming down from the Nako lake on board a IAS chopper this afternoon. 


Bhakra filling up
Tribune News Service

Rekong Peo, June 28
The floods have caused a huge loss in Himachal Pradesh but for Punjab and Haryana, the excess water flowing down the Sutlej is filling the Bhakra dam which will help meet the water demand of these two states.

The water level in the dam has risen by 21 feet in the past one week. Engineers said this is a huge jump and the level is about 75 ft more than last year at the same time.

The level today stood at 1568 elevation feet while it was 1547 elevation feet on June 21, a week ago, as per information gathered by The Tribune.

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