Over 50 tourists trek out of Himachal's Sangla Valley

Shimla, June 23 (IANS) Over 50 stranded tourists were evacuated on foot from Himachal Pradesh's picturesque Sangla Valley, which has been cut off from the rest of the state following last week's flash floods, officials said Sunday.

The 50 were the first lot of tourists to be evacuated from this valley.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) Sunday airlifted 150-odd tourists, including 12 French bikers, from different locations in the rain-ravaged Kinnaur district.

"Some 50 tourists left for Karcham from Sangla in batches. They are assisted by rescue teams of the National Disaster Management Authority," R.K. Bhardwaj, who is assisting the rescue operations in Sangla, some 275 km from here, told IANS.

With this, the government and the IAF helicopters have, in the past six days, evacuated about 1,000 tourists, mainly the sick, the old and women.

Incessant rainfall in the region June 16 triggered massive landslides that blocked many roads in Kinnaur district.

Bhardwaj said around 200 tourists are still stranded in the Sangla axis.

Officials said the trekking distance between Sangla and Karcham is seven km, but by road, the distance is 18 km. From Karcham, the tourists were taken to Rampur, the base camp for the rescued in Shimla district, in public transport vehicles.

"The road link to the Sangla Valley has not been restored so far. Landslide-clearing operations are on, but there is massive damage to the road near Kupa village," an official said.

Deputy Commissioner J.M. Pathania told IANS that the road link between state capital Shimla and district headquarters Rekong Peo was restored Sunday, after a week's closure.

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