Over 1,400 tourists who were stranded in Sikkim due to heavy snowfall were rescued by Army and Border Police officials in March. Sikkim experiences heavy winter snowfall every year but this year, the pattern has been peculiar as the state witnessed late, but concentrated snowfall.
Braving intimidating altitudes and freezing temperatures, the Trishakti corp and Border Roads Organisation launched a massive joint snow clearing operation amid inhospitable weather conditions to clear the heavy snow in order to keep the strategic roads and communication lines open and facilitate movement of locals, military personnel and tourists.
On 11 and 15 March, major rescue missions were conducted by Trishakti Corps in East Sikkim under "Operation Himrahat", wherein 1,400 tourists stranded due to sudden snowfall were rescued to safety in sub-zero temperatures.
"Snow clearance this year has been particularly challenging, considering the concentrated spells of snowfall, freezing any movement of civilians and army persons. Army Sappers deployed at altitudes ranging from 14000-18000 feet are relentlessly executing the snow clearance. These missions are not only benefiting the army but also the locals and tourists who are dependent heavily on opening of roads," said an army official.
Earlier this month, the Army rescued around 400 tourists stranded together after they got stranded following heavy snowfall in Sikkim and later provided emergency assistance, including medical care and food.
Defence spokesman Lt Col Mahendra Rawat said that around 400 tourists, including 142 women and 50 children, travelling approximately in 100 vehicles got stranded late on Saturday afternoon while returning from Natu La and Tsomgo (Changgu) Lake in Sikkim.