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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Troops rescue Himalayan tourists
Troops feed rescued tourists in Sikkim. Photo by Pema Tsangderpa
Troops brought tea, rations and oxygen for the tourists. Photo by Pema Tsangderpa
More than 300 tourists stranded at the Himalayan pass of Natu La on the India-Tibet border for two days after a huge avalanche have been rescued.

An Indian defence spokesman said troops found the tourists trapped in deep snow on Monday. All were safe but some had suffered from exposure.

The troops took seven hours to clear the road of ice, the spokesman said.

Sikkim is notorious for avalanches. One avalanche there two years ago buried more than 60 people.

Border trade

Wing Commander SN Mukherjee, defence public relations officer in Calcutta, said: "On learning of their predicament, an army quick reaction team moved into the area to clear the ice with bulldozers."

Lt-Col ABS Ghotra, who led the rescue, said the troops had to clear four to five metres of snow and ice.

Natu La pass connects Sikkim to Tibet - governed as an autonomous region by China - and will soon be open to border trade.

However, many traders and companies are apprehensive about the weather conditions all along the pass and fear they may impede trade.

One of the rescued tourists, Praveen Luthra, was trapped in a jeep carrying seven adults and two children.

"The troops cleared the road just when we were beginning to give up hope," said Mr Luthra, speaking from nearby Tegu, where the tourists are encamped with troops.

"We were given first aid and oxygen immediately after the rescue, then the troops gave us hot tea and shared their rations with us. It was a close shave for all of us."




SEE ALSO:
Cold kills hundreds in South Asia
23 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Avalanches in Kashmir kill 115
22 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Avalanche kills Indian soldiers
07 Feb 05 |  South Asia
India and China still wary
03 Apr 00 |  South Asia


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