Mansarovar ordeal: Over 500 Indian pilgrims await rescue, 883 evacuated

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New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) The government said on Thursday said that 883 Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrims were evacuated from Simikot region in Nepal in the last three days and over 500 were still awaiting rescue flights.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters that the Indian Embassy in Nepal has undertaken a massive exercise to evacuate pilgrims both from Hilsa and Simikot and “if the weather holds we will be able to get them out in the near future”.

In the last three days, 883 stranded pilgrims have been evacuated from Simikot to Nepalgunj and Surkhet.

“At least 675 pilgrims were evacuated from Hilsa to Simikot. Fifty-three civilian flights were operated to get the pilgrims out and 142 chopper sorties were carried out,” Kumar said.

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“The situtation is fast returning to normal. We have around 50 pilgrims in Surkhet and 516 in Simikot. Evacuation efforts are ongoing.”

He added that there was no crisis situation and pilgrims were stranded because weather had packed up.

“If you see the advisory we have put up on our website, specially for pilgrims taking the Nepal route, there is always a chance that when you are passing some of these points the weather could pack up. It just happened that civilian aircraft could not operate because of adverse weather conditions.”

Kumar said that the MEA organises Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through two routes — Lipulekh and Nathula.

“This is a yatra conducted by private tour operators. We are working through the private tour operators. They are the ones who will make arrangements for their coming back to India. As we speak, there are also pilgrims who are going up. So it is not something which has stopped,” he said.

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The official said that the effort was ongoing to bring the stranded people to places with better facilities. Indian pilgrims returning from Kailash Mansarovar through Nepal have been caught in a bad weather since Saturday.

According to reports, altitude sickness has become a major concern for pilgrims. Eight people had died of the same earlier this year. Twenty Mansarovar pilgrims died in 2017.

Kailash Mansarovar is situated 5,950 metres above the sea level. It takes three days to complete the 52 km Mansarovar circuit.

–IANS

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