News Brief

Uttarakhand: Trekkers' Group From Karnataka Caught In Blizzard In Uttarkashi, Nine Dead — All About It

Kuldeep Negi

Jun 06, 2024, 02:06 PM | Updated 02:06 PM IST

Pic Via IAF
Pic Via IAF

Nine trekkers from Bengaluru have lost their lives in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district.

The incident occurred during a trekking expedition to Sahastra Tal when their 22-member team was caught in bad weather on Tuesday afternoon.

On Thursday (6 June), the rescue teams recovering four more bodies, bringing the total to nine.

The deceased have been identified as Asha Sudhakar (71), Anitha Rangappa (55), Venkatesh Prasad K (53), Vinayak Mungurwadi (52), Sujata Mungurwadi (52), Padmanabha K P (50), Chitra Praneeth (48), Sindhu Wakelam (44), and Padmini Hegde (34), all residents of Bengaluru.

Five bodies were recovered earlier, and the bodies of Padmanabha, Prasad, Rangappa, and Hegde were found early Thursday morning.

All other members of the team have been rescued.

The deceased were part of a 19-member group of trekkers from The Karnataka Mountaineering Association.

"This was the seventh expedition of the association this month. I had just come after finishing an expedition in Nepal when the incident took place. I am in Joshimath now. All the deceased are experienced trekkers," said Srivatsa S, the association's secretary, adding that the bodies were shifted to Joshimath on Thursday morning.

The 19 trekkers from Karnataka and three local guides were on a high-altitude trek at Sahastra Tal when a blizzard struck around 2 pm on Tuesday (4 June).

Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda, who is in Uttarakhand, explained, "On 3 June morning, a group of 20 trekkers and guides went from Lambtal campsite to Sahastra Tal. They were returning to camp. When they were about one and a half to two hours away from camp, at 2 pm, snowing commenced. By 4 pm, snow intensified into a blizzard. By 6 pm, two trekkers succumbed to bad weather."

He continued, "Snow and wind made movement impossible. Visibility dropped to nil. They huddled together for the night on the route. Some more succumbed in the night. Morning of 4 June, a guide set off to reach a place where mobile connectivity could be established. In the meantime, some of the trekkers who were in a condition to move started towards the camp around 11 am. The guides came down to the camp and went back with supplies for the stranded trekkers."

"On June 4 evening, a guide managed to reach a point where a phone signal was available and intimated about the situation. The Karnataka Mountaineering Association and Indian Mountaineering Foundation alerted agencies. The governments of Karnataka and Uttarakhand initiated preparations on June 4 night. Army, Air Force, SDRF [State Disaster Response Force] and various government agencies and organisations were ready at 5 am on June 5 to start the rescue efforts," he added.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted a challenging rescue operation, evacuating three survivors and the mortal remains of five trekkers using helicopters.

"Racing against time, #IAF helicopters have successfully evacuated three survivors and the mortal remains of five trekkers, out of the 15 trekkers who were trapped in severe weather while trekking to Sahastra Tal, Uttarkashi. Due to the high altitude and undulating terrain, the rescue was conducted by two light weight Cheetah helicopters from the higher ground to the base camp and further to the nearest medical centre with medium lift Mi17 V5 helicopters," the IAF said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

Also Read: Big Relief For Delhi Residents: SC Directs Himachal To Release Excess Water, Haryana To Ensure Its Flow To National Capital

Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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