High chances of getting stranded: MEA advisory for Mansarovar pilgrims

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Jul 2018 08:37:53



THE External Affairs Ministry on Thursday issued an advisory for pilgrims planning to undertake the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nepal, saying there were ‘high chances’ of getting stranded in various legs of the journey in case of inclement weather.

The advisory comes in the wake of the recent inclement weather along the Nepalganj-Simikot-Hilsa route of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nepal, and the consequent stranding of pilgrims for over a week.

The advisory said the prospective pilgrims should note that Simikot and Hilsa in Nepal are connected to rest of the world only by air through small aircraft and helicopters. These small aircraft and helicopters can operate only when the weather is absolutely clear in these places and their adjoining areas, as the terrain and the route is extremely dangerous, the advisory said.

In case of poor weather, there are high chances of pilgrims getting stranded in various legs of the yatra, it said.
Noting that Simikot and Hilsa are extremely infrastructure lean places lacking medical facilities and comfortable boarding and lodging, the advisory said pilgrims should get themselves medically examined before starting the yatra and carry medicines for up to a month. It also asked all prospective pilgrims, State Governments and tour agencies to apprise themselves with the Ministry’s advisory issued in April and implement it in letter and spirit. In the April advisory, the Ministry had said that Indians travelling for the yatra through Nepal should ensure that they have appropriate Chinese visa and travel permit for Tibet in hand before commencing their journey.

It had said the pilgrims should note that they would be traversing Simikot and Hilsa on their way and both these places have inadequate tourist and medical infrastructure, and are prone to inclement weather due to which to-and-fro flights get disrupted.

Scores of Indian pilgrims were evacuated from Nepal’s mountainous Hilsa region on Wednesday, as authorities stepped up efforts to rescue those stranded there due to heavy rain while returning from the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage in Tibet.


Nearly 300 Indian pilgrims evacuated


NEARLY 300 Indian pilgrims were evacuated from Nepal’s mountainous Hilsa region on Thursday, as helicopter sorties continued for those stranded there while returning from Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage amidst bad weather.
On Thursday, 275 pilgrims were evacuated from Hilsa, taking the number of people who have been moved to safety in the last three days to 675, the Indian Embassy here said. While Hilsa is extremely infrastructure lean, Simikot has decent boarding, communication and medical facilities.

“In the last three days, around 675 were evacuated from Hilsa to Simikot. During this period 53 flights were operated and 142 sorties were made by choppers including army as well MI16 Helicopters,” the embassy said.
“The mission operated 55 sorties between Hilsa and Simikot and evacuated 275 pilgrims in Hilsa. The sorties between Hilsa and Simikot continues,” it said in a statement.

“The mission has pressed in a private MI-16 Helicopter on charter to pull out additional 20-25 pilgrims in one sortie. The Helicopter might do two-three sorties,” it said.
The mission said its camp offices became fully functional in Simikot and Surkhet.

“In the last three days, a total of 883 stranded pilgrims were evacuated from Simikot to Nepalgunj and Surkhet. Buses facilities were made available at Surkhet to ferry pilgrims to Nepalgunj,” the embassy said.
As weather improved, the mission operated 26 fixed-wing flights and one Nepal Army helicopter sorties this afternoon to evacuate 389 pilgrims to Surkhet and Nepalganj. The mission also operated seven buses to ferry all pilgrims from Surkhet to Nepalganj by road.

Inclement weather had disrupted the flights to and from the district until Monday.
Altitude sickness has become a major concern for those still waiting for their flights. Eight pilgrims have already died of altitude-related illness this year, local media reported. An Indian embassy official, however, clarified that there has been just one death due to stranding over the last six days.