400 people, trapped at the Khardung La pass – the world’s highest motor-able road, were rescued by the Army and the police in Ladakh on Friday.
Khardung La pass is one of the highest transportable mountain passes located in the deserted Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies at an elevation of 17,582 feet above sea level. After being closed for around five months, this dangerous pass was recently opened once again for transportation on 25th April this year.
As many as 400 civilians including women and children, trapped in around 150 stranded vehicles along a 10-km stretch, were rescued after they were stuck in heavy rains resulting in landslides.
The Army rescuers had to work all night long to clear the slides and rescue the tourists using both manual and mechanical means.
"...heavy snowfall triggered massive multiple landslides on the Leh-Khardung la-Khalsar axis on a 10km stretch," Defence spokesman Lt Col Rajesh Kalia said, reported The Times of India.
Incessant rain instigated heavy landslides on the Leh-Nubra road; around 435km from Khardung La pass, trapping tourists in sub-zero temperatures.
Soon after the landslide news was received, Superintendent of Police, Vivek Gupta launched a major rescue operation consisting of the police, CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and Army to the affected area. The squad was also accompanied by a medical team reported The Hindustan Times.
Nearly 120 people were administered oxygen due to low levels prevalent in the area, officials said, reported The Indian Express. Many people also complained of the altitude sickness. The Army provided shelter, warm clothing, food and also provided with immediate vehicle-based medical aid to the stranded tourists.
All except 23 laborers traveling in two buses are still stuck on the pass. “We managed to ferry some of them in our gypsies but as snowfall continued it became dangerous. The laborers have been accommodated in an army camp and are safe,” Gupta said.