Indian army have rescued about 680 people stuck in unexpected heavy snowfall in Sela Pass.
Their vehicle was surrounded by the snow from the mountain about 13 thousand feet high in Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh official sources said .
Tezpur base Defence spokesperson Lt .Col. Harsh Wardhan Pande informed that nearly 680 people including locals and tourists were stuck in 320 vehicles and were rescued last night by the army.
Three teams of army from Baisakhi worked relentlessly until midnight until to rescue the last person and vehicle, he said.
The army started rescue operations from Monday afternoon. The people were from different places going to Tawang with various types of vehicles like busses and goods carriage along with other tourists.
It is about 360 km to Tawang from Tezpur and 560 km from state capital Itanagar and 300 km to the rescued area from sela pass which is the highest mountain peck in Himalayan range.
The weather conditions of the area frequently changes.
He said that the tourist buses were trapped after a heavy snowfall struck around 3.45 pm on Monday between Ahirgarh Sela and Nuranang on the Tezpur-Tawang road in Tawang district.
The rescue team led by Havildar Prasan Rai working North of Sela extricated 188 stranded vehicles and approximately 400 civilians and brought them to the rescue camp which was established by 7.30 pm.
In addition, two teams led by Captain Tarun Singh Guleria and Captain Lavanya Sharma launched evacuation of the stranded people south of Sela Pass. They evacuated 280 people and 132 vehicles till late night.
Pande also said that, the rescue operation was carried out at sub-zero temperatures at an altitude of 13,000 feet in extremely hazardous weather by troops of the Baisakhi Brigade of the Blazing Sword Division for more than 7 hours without break.
Among the rescued people there was a one and half year baby who was having trouble breathing at high altitude and a 70 years old tourist whose blood pressure had spiked to more than 200.
The critically ill patients were stabilized at the medical post in Ahirgarh later.
On March 8, Tsewang Norbu, a noted writer and entrepreneur from Arunachal Pradesh and his daughter were killed in a road mishap at Tawang. The car driven by Norbu was found totally damaged in a deep gorge of 1000 ft near Se La Pass.
It may be mentioned that last year on March 18, a Bulgarian woman died while 127 other tourists, including five foreigners, were rescued by the army after they were stuck in a raging blizzard at the historic Sela Pass near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
The road to Tawang via Sela pass which is a vulnerable area needs better monitoring, to prevent such mishaps in the future, especially during the winter season.