Over 150 stranded Mansarovar pilgrims in Nepal evacuated; 2 dead

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New Delhi: Nearly 150 Indian pilgrims were evacuated safely on Tuesday as rescue work intensified to bring back over 1,500 Indians who have been stranded in Nepal’s mountainous region due to heavy rain while returning from the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage in Tibet.
Two pilgrims — Leela Narayanan Mandredath, 56, of Kerala and Satya Laxmi of Andhra Pradesh — have died due to high altitude sickness in Simikot and heart attack in Tibet respectively, the Indian Embassy said.
Their bodies were brought by special helicopters to Kathmandu and Nepalganj respectively, it said in a statement.
“So far 143 pilgrims have been evacuated from Hilsa to Simikot,” an Indian Embassy official told PTI.
While Hilsa is extremely infrastructure lean, Simikot has decent boarding, communication and medical facilities.
According to the Indian Embassy, which is monitoring the situation round the clock, the pilgrims are stranded in the Nepalganj-Simikot-Hilda route, some 423 kilometres from Kathmandu.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said about 525 pilgrims are stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 are stuck in Tibet side.
She said India has requested the Nepal government for army helicopters to evacuate stranded Indian nationals.
In a series of tweets, Swaraj said India has set up hotlines for pilgrims and their family members who will be provided information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages.
The mission representative in Simikot has pressed in service of available medical practitioner in Simikot to get a health check-up done for all elderly pilgrims.
In case of any medical complication, they are being given preventive medication and medical counseling.
The mission representative in Simikot is also in touch with police authorities at police check post in Hilsa. The police authorities have been requested to take care of all the pilgrims and ensure best possible assistance to them.
The mission has asked all tour operators to try and hold pilgrims back in Tibet side as far as possible since the medical and civic facilities on Nepal side are inadequate.
They have further been told to accord first priority in clearing up situation in Hilsa, which is the most infrastructure lean place in the area.
The mission is looking at various alternatives of evacuating people from Simikot, including searching for alternative routes (Simikot-Surkhet/Simikot-Jumla/Simikot-Mugu).
All these routes, however, appear to be as difficult as Simikot-Nepalganj. It is also trying to press in services of Nepal Army helicopters, which have superior abilities of operating in difficult terrain. —With PTI

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