Shimla, July 13
Himachal Pradesh minister Jagat Singh Negi and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Sanjay Avasthi on Thursday reached Chandertal in Lahaul and Spiti district to evacuate 290 people, mostly tourists.
About 300 people, mostly tourists, have been stranded in Chandertal since Saturday and seven sick people, including two elderly and a girl, were airlifted to Bhunter on Tuesday.
"Revenue Minister Jagat Singh Negi reached Chandertal around 2 am Thursday. The first batch of the stranded tourists started from Chandertal around 8 am and reached Kunzum pass. They are expected to reach Losar after 10:30 am," Deputy Commissioner Lahaul and Spiti, Rahul Kunar told PTI.
"Food and medical supplies will be provided to the tourists at Losar before taking them to Kaza," he said, adding that the SP is supervising the rescue operation.
Officials said Negi reached Chandertal after almost 18 hours as the road rescue teams struggled to clear the route, covered under three to four feet of snow, through Kunzum pass to Chandertal.
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who did an aerial survey of Losar, Chandertal, Sirru and Manali on Wednesday, termed the evacuation from Chandertal a "challenging task". He had tasked the revenue minister, who hails from the tribal Kinnaur district and is acquainted with the harsh topography, to assist the rescue efforts in Chandertal.
According to the state government, 60,000 tourists have so far been evacuated from the hill state.
"Ninety-five people, including foreigners, were brought to safe places at Sangla, Chitkul and Raksham in Kinnaur district, and those affected by floods in Sangla have been temporarily sheltered in schools, guest houses and hotels," officiating DGP Satwant Atwal tweeted Wednesday night.
"Six Israelis have been brought to Manikaran and 37 Israelis are at Barshaini, and all of them are safe," she added.
Meanwhile, Israel Deputy Chief of Mission Ohad Nakash Kaynar tweeted on Thursday, “Going to Himachal Pradesh on the Director General and Ambassador's directive to try and reconnect with Israeli tourists who are in flooded areas like Kasol, Kalga and Pulga."
Thousands of tourists, including 25,000 in Kullu and Manali, have been evacuated to safe places, but hundreds remain stranded as many roads are still closed due to landslides and floods.
"A total of 1,020 roads were still blocked in the state, while 2,498 transformers and 1,244 water supply schemes have been disrupted," an official of the state emergency operation centre said on Thursday.
As many as 88 people have died in rain-related incidents and road accidents since the onset of monsoon in the state on June 24, and 100 people suffered injuries and 16 are still missing. A total of 170 houses have been damaged completely and 594 partially, the state emergency operation centre said.
The state has suffered a cumulative loss of Rs 1,312 crore till July 12, and loss estimates are still pouring in as per the emergency centre. However, the chief minister has maintained that the state's losses are about Rs 4,000 crore.
Officials said bus services are suspended on 1,128 Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation routes and 302 buses are held enroute.
"Our priority is to evacuate the stranded and restore the communication network," Principal Secretary (Revenue) Onkar Chand Sharma said after reviewing the situation.
Light to heavy rains continued to lash several parts of the state on Thursday, with Dhaulakaun in Sirmaur being the wettest at 106 mm followed by Solan 38 mm, Palampur 28 mm, Jubberhatti 25 mm, Narkanada 24.5 mm and Shimla 21 mm.
The MeT office has issued a 'yellow' alert for heavy rain, thunderstorm and lightning on July 15 and 16 and predicted a wet spell till July 18.
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