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500 Indians Stranded in Nepal Due to Bad Weather, Sushma Swaraj Swings Into Action

The Indian Embassy in Nepal tweeted that it was aware of the situation and action was being taken for safety and comfort of pilgrims.


Updated:July 3, 2018, 11:42 AM IST
500 Indians Stranded in Nepal Due to Bad Weather, Sushma Swaraj Swings Into Action
File photo of Sushma Swaraj.

Chennai: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that India has asked the Nepalese government to provide army helicopters for evacuation of at least 500 Indians, mostly Kailash Manasarovar pilgrims, who are believed to be stranded in the mountainous regions of Simikot.

Swaraj further said that health camps have been set up in the Simikot for elderly pilgrims to undergo heath check-up and to provide other medical assistance. The Union Minister listed a series of contact numbers for the pilgrims and their relatives to get information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Swaraj initiated the rescue efforts after relatives of one of the stranded people tweeted to the external affairs minister.

Leela Namboodiripad (55) died of cardiac arrest on Monday morning after being stuck in Simikot following cancellation of flights to and fro the region due to inclement weather.

Namboodiripad’s relatives informed Swaraj of the situation on Twitter.

“Madam, more than 700 yathris including my parents are left stranded in simikot, Nepal because of non-availability of flights. Kindly arrange to provide flights in order for them to reach their destination,” Vignesh Raman tweeted.

Another person Subbaiah Karuppasamy said, “Without changing the dress which is held up in Nepalganj. Not only we are 100s of indians facing this problem not beacuse of only weather. Due negligence of Nepal flight operators Goma AIR pilots went to strike on Saturday and Repair in Tara air (sic).”

According to a report in The New Indian Express, while pilgrims have found shelter at hotels or at roadside shops converted to accommodate them, the weather has taken a toll, especially on older pilgrims.

The Indian Embassy in Nepal tweeted that it was aware of the situation and action was being taken for safety and comfort of pilgrims. Namboodiripad’s husband Sethu Mahadevan told Express the cardiac arrest was said to have been because of the low oxygen levels. “We were supposed to leave on Sunday but were unable to do so because all flights were cancelled,” he said.

The couple, natives of Wandoor in Malappuram district in Kerala, was part of a group of 41 pilgrims, who began their trip on June 22. They had returned from Manasarovar on Sunday and were waiting for a flight out of Simikot to Nepalgunj from which tourists fly to Kathmandu.

Several others — friends of those stranded and the tourists themselves — have also tweeted to the Minister for urgent aid.

Said Deenadhayalan, a resident of Villivakkam in Chennai who has been stranded in Simikot for the fifth day on Monday, “For now, we have found food and shelter but many Indians are stuck here, wearing the same clothes for a week now.”

Deenadhayalan was part of a group of 23, who started from Chennai on June 20 and was scheduled to return on June 28.

The flight they had initially booked to Nepalgunj was cancelled after employees of the private airline went on strike. “For so long, the hoteliers managed with local supplies to provide food for us. But from today, there was scarcity. From tomorrow, it is going to be very difficult,” said B Rammohan from Perambur, who is also stranded in Simikot.

Meanwhile, local tour operators said that they were looking to arrange special planes and helicopter rides at an added cost of `11,000 per individual. However, the plans had not materialised yet, they said.

Meanwhile, Express stated that the Karnataka CM’s office on Monday night said that evacuation was not currently an option due to inclement weather. But, pilgrims were receiving support from the Embassy. The pilgrims/family may contact Shri Pranav Ganesh, First Secretary, Embassy of India Kathmandu at +977 985-1107006

| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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