A snowstrom struck Arunachal Pradesh last afternoon, trapping many tourists near Tawang. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
Nearly 680 people including locals and tourists in 320 vehicles stuck in unexpected heavy snowfall near Sela Pass near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh since yesterday afternoon were rescued by Army teams last evening, the operations continuing late into the night.
More than two feet of snow fell since yesterday noon and a large number of vehicles got stuck in sub-zero temperatures between Ahirgarh and Sela Pass.
The road had about two-three feet of snow and was opened for traffic today by the Border Roads Organisation. (Zee News Network)
Three rescue teams from the nearest base at Baisakhi worked relentlessly till midnight and all people and vehicles were brought to safety.
With darkness setting in early, the entire operation was almost conducted in the dark and continued till all tourists were rescued. (Zee News Network)
One team led by Havildar Prasan Rai working North of Sela extricated 188 stranded vehicles and approximately 400 civilians stuck in them to the Rescue Camp established at Jaswantgarh by 7.30 PM from where they moved on their own.
Additionally, two teams led by Captain Tarun Singh Guleria and Capt Lavanya Sharma were launched to rescue and evacuate civilians stranded South of Sela Pass and they evacuated 280 persons and 132 vehicles till late in the evening.
Conduct of rescue work in sub-zero temperatures at an altitude of more than 13,000 feet in a hazardous terrain under failing ambient lighting conditions posed a formidable challenge for the teams. The troops of the Baisakhi Brigade of the Blazing Sword Division toiled for more than seven hours to get all to safety.
The rescued included a one and a half-year-old child who was having difficulty in breathing and a seventy-year-old tourist whose blood pressure had spiked to more than 200. The critically ill patients were stabilized at the medical post at Ahirgarh and later evacuated.
Last year, sudden heavy snowfall at this location had killed a Bulgarian woman, while 127 other tourists, including five foreigners, were rescued by the army after they were stuck in a raging blizzard.