Twenty-one people stranded near the 3978-metre high Rohtang pass were rescued in a late-night operation on Thursday by a team of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) amid heavy snowfall, officials said on Friday.
A 14-member police party, including two women constable and wife of a personnel, were among those stranded. Seven civilians—four from Punjab, two from Una and one local—were also rescued.
“The rescue operation was conducted around midnight,” BRO’s Border Roads Task Force’s (BRTF) commander, Colonel Uma Shankar, said.
They were travelling in separate groups towards Manali and had crossed the Koksar barrier on Lahaul-Spiti side on Thursday when they got stranded between Rohtang Pass and Rani Nallah on Manali-Leh highway due to heavy snowfall.
BRO dispatched a team with a snow cutter and deployed 4X4 vehicles to evacuate them, officials said.
Vehicular traffic on the Leh-Manali highway remained blocked on Friday as well after a blizzard struck the high mountain pass on Thursday afternoon.
The administration had suspended vehicular movement towards Rohtang Pass, the gateway to Tribal Lahaul-Spiti district.
Several vehicles are reported to have been stranded on the highway due to an accumulation of snow. The higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh have experienced heavy snowfall in the past few days.
The residents of the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti have urged the state government to start Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus service via under-construction Rohtang tunnel twice a week during the winter season.
Lahaul-Spiti’s District Congress Committee has also submitted a memorandum to the state government through the district administration and urged to start the helicopter service.
The committee has said that travelling through Rohtang Pass becomes risky in winters due to recurring snowfall.
The meteorological department has issued a yellow weather warning for heavy rains and snowfall in six districts of Himachal Pradesh on Friday.
“A western disturbance active in the region is likely to bring heavy rains and snow in the state today,” said Shimla MeT centre’s director Manmohan Singh.
Keylong, the administrative headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, remained the coldest place in the state with a minimum temperature of 0.2° Celsius followed by Kalpa in Kinnaur, where the minimum temperature was recorded 3.6° C.
Tourist resort Manali recorded a minimum temperature of 7.7°C, Kufri 7.4° C, Dalhousie 8.2° C, Shimla 9.9° C, Dharamshala 12.6° C and Palampur recorded a minimum temperature of 10.5° C.
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