All stranded Indian Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims evacuated from Nepal

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Kathmandu: All the 1,430 stranded Indian pilgrims who were stranded while returning from the Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet have been airlifted to safety with the evacuation of the last batch of 160 people from Nepal’s mountainous regions today, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu said.

Those rescued from Hilsa and Simikot districts have been moved to Nepalgunj and Surkhet, the two towns with better health care and infrastructure facilities close to the Indian border.

“The evacuation process completed after 160 stranded pilgrims were evacuated today from Simikot and Hilsa. Embassy’s team continues to be stationed to monitor the situation,” the Indian mission tweeted.

“As of today, 1,430 stranded pilgrims were airlifted from Simikot/Hilsa to Nepalgunj/Surkhet and have achieved a zero in both these places,” it said.

The pilgrims were stuck for the past five-six days as continued downpour in western Nepal had blocked the transportation.

The Indian embassy took initiatives to evacuate them and provide necessary medicine and other essential items as soon as they got information, an official said. Commercial flights and Nepal Army helicopters were also deployed for the task over the past few days.

“All of them have been airlifted from Hilsa and Simikot to Surkhet and Nepalgunj, border towns of Nepal. Two embassy staff were also deployed at the site for facilitating evacuation and establishing communication with the family members of the victims,” embassy spokesperson Roshan Lepcha said.

“They were evacuated from Hilsa and brought to Simikot from where they were airlifted to Nepalgunj and Surkhet, border towns,” he said.

He said the embassy had coordinated with local tour operators and security people to carry out the rescue works.

In view of the situation, the Indian embassy had on Thursday issued a revised advisory for prospective pilgrims, suggesting medical examination before taking up the yatra.

The pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibetan region of China is considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Every year, hundreds of Indians undertake the ‘yatra’ which involves trekking under inhospitable conditions. PTI

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