Indian Army Sikkim

Gangtok, Dec 27: The Indian Army rescued over a thousand tourists trapped at Tsomgo (Chhangu) Lake in Sikkim and Nathu-la near the India-China border after heavy snowfall. The tourists were kept overnight at a camp before being taken to Gangtok.

The Sikkim state government has stopped issuing permits at Tsomgo Lake and elsewhere beyond Yumthang, which falls in the Mangan district (formerly North district) of the state because of heavy snowfall.

A total of 1,027 tourists were stuck in the snow in the Nathu-la pass of Tsomgo Lake and its neighboring areas and the temperature plummeted to sub-zero levels due to the weather.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Marg connecting these areas with Gangtok started to slide after the heavy snowfall. About 120 vehicles in which tourists were stranded were reported by army sources to be on a 15km stretch of road.

In an attempt to rescue the tourists, Black Cat Division soldiers posted in the area intervened and they transported the tourists to military camps near the 17th Mile.

After receiving hot meals, warm clothing, and essential medical care, all tourists spent that night at the camp before being transported to Gangtok on Sunday.

The tourist, who got stuck in snow during the weekend, related that he and his companion planned on visiting Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, and Nathu-la but got stranded about a mile short of Tsomgo Lake during the time of the snowfall.

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The Indian army then came to their rescue. “It is because of them that we are safe,” said the traveler said.

They would have been in a dire situation had the Indian Army and Police of Sikkim not intervened.

He said it was difficult to walk on snow and he slipped and fell several times as we walked down a few kilometers from where our vehicle got stuck.

No risks are being taken by the Sikkim government. “We will start issuing passes only after the weather improves and the snow clears,” a tourism official of Baba Mandir said.