2 Indian Mansarovar pilgrims die, over 1,500 stranded

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Kathmandu, July 3 (IANS) Two Indian pilgrims have died while over 1,500 others returning from Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet are stranded in Simikot in Nepal’s Humla district due to heavy rain and bad weather.

The Indian Embassy here said on Monday that it was monitoring the situation along the route in Simikot, 423 km away. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Kathmandu had been requested to provide Army helicopters to evacuate the Indians.

“There were 525 pilgrims stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 more in Tibet,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

Nepali police said Narayanam Leela of Kerela died at his hotel in Simikot after he returned from Mansarovar and Satya Laxmi of Andhra Pradesh died at Taklakot in Tibet. Eight Indian pilgrims have died this year in Mansarovar, the Kathmandu Post reported.

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Indian officials here said that as soon as weather gets better, the pilgrims would be rescued and brought to Nepalgunj.

“Bad weather is hampering the rescue operations. Some of the pilgrims are stranded in Hilsa, close to Nepal-Tibet border, while some are stranded in Simikot,” said Pranav Ganesh, First Secretary at the Indian Embassy.

“As of July 3 morning, the weather situation remains inclement and there is very little chance of operating evacuation flights,” said the Embassy.

Weather conditions across Nepal have worsened since Monday due to perpetual downpour in which at least a dozen people were killed.

The Embassy said it had placed its representatives in Nepalganj and Simikot to ensure proper food and lodging facilities for the pilgrims. The police have been asked to take care of those stranded, it added.

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In Simikot, Indian officials were providing medical help to the elderly pilgrims. The Indian government had also set up hotlines for the stranded people to contact their families.

The Indian mission has asked all tour operators in the region to try hold pilgrims back in Tibet as far as possible since the medical and civic facilities on Nepal side were inadequate.

–IANS

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