Zanskar, Ladakh: A total of 50 trekkers including nine foreign nationals and an 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 campsite upstream and were waiting to be rescued. To carry out a rescue by helicopters, a makeshift helipad was prepared along the river bank. Indian Air Force’s Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) were immediately pressed into action from Air Force station Leh.
The Chadar Trek that is also known as Zanskar Gorge is an extreme winter hiking in the Zanskar, which now falls in the union territory of Ladakh. Chadar Trek is traditionally the only means the locals travel during extreme winters however the trail got popular with Indian and foreign tourists coming in big numbers during winters to undertake it.
Air Force to continue the rescue operation
IAFs helicopters have rescued 107 individuals from Chadar Trek during the last two days. The rescued trekkers include one male and one female from France and four male and three females from the Peoples Republic of China, who as per the information were rescued from Padum which is the district capital of Zanskar. 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 set up 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 Ladakhs newly formed civil administration, nearby Indian Army units and local Disaster Relief Teams.