200 tourists stranded near glacial-fed lake in Himachal rescued

A view of mountains and Spiti river in Himachal Pradesh India.

A view of mountains and Spiti river in Himachal Pradesh India. (file photo)

In a tough operation in the Himalayas, rescuers on Sunday rescued nearly 200 tourists stranded in the vicinity of the glacial-fed Chandertal or moon lake in Himachal Pradesh’s Spiti Valley owing to heavy rain that triggered snapping of road links, officials said.

“All tourists stranded at Chandertal are all safe and healthy. Rescue operations have started. The police control room has started calling families of tourists and is assuring them of the tourists’ wellbeing,” said a senior police official.

He told IANS that Superintendent of Police Mayank Chaudhary was on the spot to supervise the relief and rescue operation.


The Chandertal lake — a crescent-shaped basin surrounded by the Himalayas — is located at an elevation of 14,100 ft. The lake is accessible only during the summer. In winter, it remains frozen.

Earlier, 30 college students, who were travelling from Spiti to Manali, were rescued to safety after snapping of the road link owing to flash floods and landslides in high mountains.

The district administration was informed on Saturday evening that the group was stranded between Gramphu and Chota Dharra in Lahaul subdivision. They were travelling in two vehicles.

A rescue team, comprising police, Home Guard and the Border Road Organisation (BRO) personnel, was deployed for the rescue operation, a bulletin by the state emergency operation centre here said.

It said flash floods and landslides blocked NH 505 (Sumdo Kaza-Gramphu) at different locations between Gramphu and Dharra. “Man and resources will be deployed after the clearance of weather,” it said.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu expressed grief over the death of three family members in a landslide in Kumarsain tehsil of Shimla district.

He said the district administration has been directed to provide immediate relief to the affected family.

He ordered closure of schools on July 10 and 11 in the wake of heavy rain.

He appealed to the people to avoid going near the rivers and rivulets, besides remaining vigilant amidst the ongoing adverse weather conditions.

Owing to heavy rain with possibility of snowfall in high altitude areas, the government on Saturday stopped the two-week long Shrikhand Mahadev pilgrimage, considered tougher than the journey to the Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir, till Monday.

A day earlier, three devotees slipped during the pilgrimage. The rescue team recovered one body, while two were missing, Deputy Superintendent of Police Chandrashekhar Kayath told the media. He said the search operation was hampered owing to bad weather.

Meanwhile, the hills of Himachal Pradesh continued to experience moderate to heavy rainfall on Sunday, causing landslides in several areas and blocking highways, while all major rivers and their tributaries were in spate, officials said.

An official of the local MeT office said there are chances of heavy rainfall at several places in the state till Monday.

Incessant rain has also caused massive landslides on national highways in Shimla, Kinnaur, Mandi and Kullu districts, hampering vehicular traffic.

The water level in the major rivers of the state — the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna — which enter the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana has also increased, a government official told IANS.