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Over 1,500 pilgrims stuck in Nepal due to rains, Indian officials pressed into relief works


New Delhi/Kathmandu, At least 1,500 Indian pilgrims have been stranded along the route of Kailash Mansarover Yatra in Nepal due to bad weather after heavy rains caused landslips at several locations. "There are about 525 pilgrims stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 in Tibet side," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Tuesday morning. "We have requested Government of Nepal for Army helicopters to evacuate stranded Indian nationals," she wrote."Indian Embassy in Nepal has deployed representatives in Nepalganj and Simikot. They are in touch with the pilgrims and ensuring that food and lodging facilities are available to all the pilgrims," Ms Swaraj said. Meanwhile, sources said the Embassy of India in Kathmandu is "monitoring" the situation along Nepalganj-Simikot-Hilsa route of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (through Nepal). "As of July 3 (Tuesday) morning, the weather situation remains inclement and there is very little chance of operating evacuation flights," a source said, adding that the Indian Mission in Nepal has accordingly asked all tour operators to try and hold pilgrims back in Tibet side "as far as possible". Sources said the medical and civic facilities on Nepal side are "inadequate". They have been, however, told to accord first priority in clearing up situation in Hilsa, which is the most infrastructure lean place in the area "The Mission is looking at various alternatives of evacuating people from Simikot, including searching for alternative routes (Simikot-Surkhet/Simikot-Jumla/Simikot-Mugu). All these routes, however, appear to be as difficult as Simikot-Nepalganj". It is also trying to press in services of Nepal Army helicopters, which have superior abilities of operating in difficult terrain.The Indian Embassy has also placed its representatives in Nepalganj and Simikot, who are personally in touch with each and every stranded pilgrim. "The representatives are ensuring that proper food and lodging facilities are available to all the pilgrims," sources said. The Indian Mission representative in Simikot has pressed in service of available medical practitioner in Simikot to get a health check up done for all elderly pilgrims. "In case of any medical complication, they are being given preventive medication and medical counseling of dos and don’ts," the sources said. Indian official representatives in Simikot is also in touch with police authorities at police check post in Hilsa. "The police authorities have been requested to take care of all the pilgrims and ensure best possible assistance to them". In another tweet, Ms Swaraj wrote: 'We have set up hotlines for pilgrims and their family members who will provide information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages".

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