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Lankans in India rescued

2013 Jun 29

A group of Sri Lankans who had been stranded in Uttarkashi in India, where hundreds were killed and displaced by floods, have been rescued by villagers in the area, the Times of India reported.

Teh Times of India report said that villagers from Didsari near Uttarkashi, whose houses were washed away, rescued 43 foreigners who were stuck in the Himalayas for over a week. The tourists from the US, UK, Sri Lanka and other nations were there to participate in a ‘Himalayan retreat’.

“We’re alive because of the villagers. They saw us struggling to get out of the centre up on the hills and came to help though they themselves struggled for food, water and shelter,” said Catherine from Canada, one of the survivors. She said 40% houses in Didsari villages were washed away.

The foreigners arrived at the Uttarkashi Tapovan – a yoga centre — on June 14. “On June 16, we saw the bridge — the only link between the town and the hilly region — washed away. The water scaled up the ashram’s steps. We were scared. Some stayed up all night to check the water level. The villages lower down were badly hit,” said Anjali Mehta, an NRI from the US. She said they contacted embassies of the US, Brazil and Canada and others to send helicopters. Nothing helped. Some of them then climbed down towards the village.

“Ram, Kuldeep, Shikhar were the boys who came to help with their families. Some of the boys trained at the National Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) helped us walk down the steep slope to the Maneri helipad,” said Mehta. The tourists now plan to help the villagers financially and with rations. “When we left, some said they had only two days of ration left,” said a tourist. NIM’s principal Col Ajay Kothiyal said these trained locals had so far rescued 6,000. “They know how to fix ropes, create new tracks etc to bring down people, especially old and sick.”

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