Two Indian devotees die, 1,500 stranded on Kailash Mansarovar route in Nepal

India has set up hotlines for travellers and their family members, who will be provided information, minister says

New Delhi/Kathmandu: Two Indian devotees undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar journey died while over 1,500 others are stranded in mountainous regions of Nepal due to inclement weather, officials said.

India has requested Kathmandu for help in evacuating the travellers.

Officials said more than 100 Hindu devotees from India were evacuated from Nepal’s Simikot region and rescue work has been intensified to bring back all those stuck along the route to Kailash Mansarovar in China’s Tibetan region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said he was in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs as well as other officials concerned and issued instructions to extend all possible assistance to the stranded Indians.

In a series of tweets, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said about 525 devotees are stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 are stuck in the Tibet side, adding India has requested the Nepal government for army helicopters to evacuate them.

“So far 104 pilgrims have been rescued from the site. Seven commercial flights have so far been operated for the rescue works,” an Indian Embassy official told news agency PTI.

The evacuated devotees were taken to Nepalganj, bordering India.

Nepal Police said two Indian devotees — Narayanam Leela, 56, of Kerela and Satya Laxmi of Andhra Pradesh — died.

Leela died suddenly at his hotel as he returned after visiting Mansarovar, while Laxmi died in Taklakot, Rabin Shrestha, a senior police official in Humla district was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.

The trek to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibetan region of China is revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Every year, hundreds of Indians undertake the ‘yatra’ which involves trekking under inhospitable conditions.

Swaraj said India has set up hotlines for devotees and their family members who will be provided information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages.

“Indian Embassy in Nepal has deployed representatives in Nepalganj and Simikot. They are in touch with the pilgrims and ensuring that food and lodging facilities are available to all,” she said.

In Simikot, the minister said, a health check up has been carried out on all the elderly devotees and they are being provided required medical help.

“In Hilsa, we have requested police authorities for necessary assistance,” she said.

The Indian Embassy in Nepal has asked all tour operators to try and hold devotees back in Tibet side as far as possible since the medical and civic facilities on Nepal side are inadequate.

The mission, in a statement, said it is looking at various alternatives to evacuate the stranded people from Simikot, including through separate routes.

The mission is also looking at various alternatives to evacuate the stranded people from Simikot, including through alternative routes via Simikot-Surkhet, Simikot-Jumla and Simikot-Mugu.

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