Over 400 stranded pilgrims evacuated in Nepal: 'No need for panic'


New Delhi/Kathmandu,  Assuring that there was "no need for panic" due to inclement weather and landslides keeping over 1500 Indian pilgrims on Kailash Mansorovar Yatra stranded, the Government of India on Wednesday enlisted the services of Ex-Indian Army Personnel Association to expedite the relief and evacuation process. Indian authorities in coordination with various agencies in Nepal have so far evacuated over 400 stranded citizens.Official sources said here that on Wednesday 158 stranded Indian pilgrims were evacuated from Simikot to Nepalganj and over 250 from Hilsa to Simikot. "One thing we have done since Wednesday morning is we have activated the Ex-Indian Army Personnel Association to help the pilgrims at Surkhet and take them to Nepalganj," the official said here. Sources also said all expenses required to use the services of Nepal army choppers to help the stranded Indians to evacuate the people and provide them with necessary bus services will be paid by the Government of India. Till Wednesday morning, five fights and one chopper flight have been operated and number of other choppers have been pressed into service in various locations. The Indian Embassy in Nepal has also parked a four-member team at Nepalganj and the officials of the team would be visiting Simikot also, sources said. Sources confirmed that two Indians Leela Narayanan Mandredath from Kerala and Satya Lakshmi Narayana Subba Rao Grandhi Veera Venkata from Andhra Pradesh - who breathed their last largely due to altitude problems and has nothing to do with the landslides due to incessant rains. Sources also said the pilgrims on Nepal route to Kailash Mansorovar Yatra went through private channels as Indian Government's sponsored tour for the Yatra is through other channels and not through Nepal. Meanwhile, reports from Kathmandu said Indian travellers returning from their Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage in Tibet breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after “partly good weather” permitted nearly a dozen flights to and from Simikot Airport. “We hope to clear the backlog of passengers by Wednesday as the weather is expected to remain fairly good,” said Ghanshyam Acharya, senior general manager of Sita Air, according to a report in 'The Kathmandu Post'. Pilgrims had been stranded in Simikot and Hilsa for the last three days due to inclement weather.There are more than 1,000 travellers on the Tibet side, reports said.