Rescue of Indian pilgrims under way

Nepalgunj, July 5

Hundreds of Indian nationals on a pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar in Tibet have been stranded on the Simikot-Hilsa road for the past one week due to incessant rainfall.

According to DSP Rabin Shrestha of District Police Office, Humla, more than 700 pilgrims on the way to and back from the pilgrimage site have been stranded on the way between Humla’sSimikot and Hilsa on the Nepal-Tibet border.

“As flights have been cancelled due to adverse weather, the same has left the pilgrims stranded,” said the DSP. “This time of the year till October is suitable for visiting the site across the border. Everyday 200 to 250 Indian pilgrims use this way to reach or return from there. They are bound to be stranded when weather turns harsh,” added the police officer, adding that while some of the pilgrims are stranded at Taklakot, others are at Hilsa and yet others at Simikot.

Meanwhile, the pilgrims who have arrived in Nepalgunj from the pilgrimage site have requested that the remaining stranded pilgrims be rescued.

“There are many others who are stranded on the way. The condition in Hilsa was very bad and we were relieved when we reached Simikot. Now that we are here in Nepalgunj, we have hope of surviving,” said Rita Hallaw of Kolkata, India, adding she could not get good accommodation, medicine and even water while in Hilsa. Many like her complained of their condition caused by inclement weather.

According to sources, rescue of the stranded pilgrims from Hilsa on the Nepal-Tibet border and the Simikot airport is under way. According to Civil Aviation Office of Nepalgunj, the rescue started from Tuesday after there was some improvement in the weather allowing flights to operate.

Chief District Officer Ramesh Kumar KC of Banke said necessary provisions for accommodation for the rescued had been made. “In view of the urgency of the situation, we’ve urged the pilgrims to contact police, local administration and the travel agency that is taking care of their travel in case of urgency,” he said, adding, “Hundred pilgrims were rescued yesterday and as many will be rescued today.”

Airline companies such as Tara, Sita and Samit Air have been operating between Simikot and Nepalgunj. While Tara Air operated seven flights on Thursday alone, Sita and Samit each made four flights. The rescue operation, however, halted for some time due to heavy winds today. The airport office of Nepalgunj has said there was no difficulty for rescued pilgrims to fly to Kathmandu.