Sikkim: At least 3000 tourists were rescued by the Indian Army from the high reaches of Nathu La pass near Indo-China border and other places in the Sikkim region following heavy snowfall. The tourists were stuck on the Gangtok-Nathu La road following a severe snowstorm on Friday, December 28.

Almost 2,500 tourists were accommodated at the barracks at 17 Mile military camp, the rest were taken to 13 Mile camp.

“All the tourists were provided with necessary assistance. Some had to be hospitalised and required oxygen support. Army doctors treated them and all are safe. There were no major injuries or casualties. The tourists were in 300-400 vehicles that got stuck and started skidding after the snowstorm, a senior Army officer said.

The tourists expressed gratitude to the Indian Army for saving their lives. “Had it not been for the Army, many of us may not be alive. The soldiers gave up their barracks and shared food with us,” said a tourist.

Sikkim district collector Kapil Meena said, “Nearly 355 tourist vehicles started returning to Gangtok from 17 Mile after the snow was cleared.” Lauding the local Army unit for its brave action, Nathu La brigade commander Brigadier KS Dhadwal mentioned how they swung into action after the tourists’ vehicles started skidding in the upper reaches. “All those above 13,000ft were brought down to 9,000ft. We ensured that everyone who required medical help received it,” he said.