National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 16 January 2020
50 trekkers including nine foreign nationals and approximately equal number of local guides and porters, who were a part of the ongoing ‘Chadar Trek’, got stranded when some portions of the frozen Zanskar River melted. The melting caused the flow of the water to become too strong, for the trekkers to continue across the river on foot. The stranded trekkers managed to move to Niraq, a small camp site upstream and were awaiting to be rescued. To carry out a rescue by helicopters, a makeshift helipad was prepared along the river bank. ALH helicopters were immediately pressed into action from AF Stn Leh.
IAF’s helicopters have rescued 107 individuals during the last two days.
The rescued trekkers include one male and one female from France and four male and three females from People’s Republic of China, who as per the information were rescued from Padum. IAF will continue the ongoing rescue operation till all the stranded trekkers, guides and porters are evacuated and brought to safety. Additionally, in order to provide medical facilities to the stranded trekkers a medical officer and a medical assistant were also flown from AF Stn Leh to Niraq. The team has setup a medical assistance camp at Niraq and are providing basic medical assistance to the stranded trekkers.
The operations were undertaken by IAF in close coordination with Ladakh’s newly formed Civil Administration, nearby Indian Army units and local Disaster Relief Teams.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.