Himachal Pradesh Police rescues tourists stranded in 400 vehicles in Atal Tunnel
The vehicles were moved to their respective destinations after police teams from Keylong and Manali launched a joint rescue operation that took around 10-12 hours and ended at 4:00 am, said the official.
A large number of tourists stranded in over 400 vehicles near the South Portal of the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang Pass due to snowfall had been rescued, officials said on Friday, December 30, 2022.
The vehicles were stuck due to slippery conditions after snowfall at the Manali-Leh highway tunnel and surrounding areas on Thursday.
The vehicles were moved to their respective destinations after police teams from Keylong and Manali launched a joint rescue operation that took around 10-12 hours and ended at 4:00 am on Friday, the official added. However, the tourists said they were thrilled to see and enjoy the snow.
Deputy Commissioner, Lahual and Spiti, Sumit Khimta, said, "All vehicles stuck due to the bad weather have safely crossed the South Portal. Food arrangements were made for the stranded tourists and locals."
Deputy Commissioner of Kullu, Ashutosh Garg, advised tourists to drive safely and cautiously.
According to the president of the Manali Hoteliers' Association, Mukesh Thakur, too many vehicles are on the road, leading to frequent traffic jams. However, the occupancy of registered rooms is not proportional to vehicular traffic, and it appears that the tourists are staying in unauthorised properties.
Following the latest report, the Dalhousie, Saloni, and Churah areas of Chamba district and Pangi valley have been cut off due to snowfall. Tourists enjoyed snow in Kalpa, Kinnaur's tribal district, and Kufri, Narkanda, and Kukumseri.
The local MeT Office has forecast dry weather for December 31, and hoteliers in the state are preparing for the New Year by hosting special dinners, parties, and competitions for tourists.
Kothi received 15 cm of snow, followed by Khadrala, Udaipur, and Kalpa, which received 5 cm each, Pooh and Sangla, which received 4 cm each; and Gondla, Shillaro, and Kukumseri, which received 3 cm each.
According to officials, traffic was also disrupted on a few routes in Shimla, Chamba, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti.
The MeT office forecasts dry weather in the region until January 3 and warns of moderate to dense fog in isolated pockets over plains and low hills during the morning hours. According to the forecast, the cold wave will likely hit isolated pockets across plains and low hills. Keylong in tribal Lahaul and Spiti was the coldest place in the state, with a minimum temperature of minus 6.3 degrees Celsius.
(With inputs from PTI)