Advanced Light helicopters (ALH) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters carried out a search and rescue operation at Niraq in the Zanskar valley and rescued 107 trekkers over the last two days, the IAF said on Thursday.
Fifty trekkers 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 IAF said in a statement. The stranded trekkers managed to move to Niraq, a small campsite upstream from where they were rescued, IAF added.
The rescued trekkers include one male and one female from France and four male and three females from China, IAF said.
Two days ago, the Armys 14 Corps, too, launched multiple search columns to rescue a group of tourists stranded in bad weather while undertaking the Chaddar trek.
Responding swiftly to a request received from the UT (Union Territory) administration, columns were launched from two directions to reach tourists who were stuck at the Niraq village. Helicopters of the Army Aviation were also pressed into service for the purpose, the Army had stated.
Despite the narrow valleys along the Zanskar River, Army Aviation helicopters managed to land in inclement weather at a makeshift helipad in Niraq. A column of Army personnel was inducted to coordinate the rescue operations, the Army had stated. An Army Medical Officer was present to provide immediate medical aid to tourists, while medicines, emergency rations and warm clothing were taken by helicopters.
The Army evacuated six seriously ill tourists suffering from the effects of frostbite and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) to its medical facility in Leh.
The Chadar trek is an annual winter event in Ladakh, popular among adventure tourists, wherein the trek is undertaken on the frozen Zanskar river over a period of 4-5 days, with halts in between.