Survivors recall Kinnaur nightmare

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 27

Those who were lucky to survive the Kinnaur landslide mishap on Sunday were in a daze as they narrated the harrowing tale. They will never be able to forget the incident and it has left an indelible mark on their minds.

“While returning from Chitkul to Sangla, we saw stones rolling down from the top of the hill. On seeing the stones skidding down fast, our driver reversed the vehicle but it was too late and a huge boulder hit our vehicle, which overturned and slid towards a gorge,” recalled Naveen Bhardwaj from Mohali in Punjab who had a miraculous escape.

“I am still not sure if I jumped out of the window or was tossed out of the vehicle and fell on mud. As rolling stones were still coming, I just lay down and ran towards a tree for shelter from where I made a call to the police. Meanwhile, I started shouting for help and heard the voice of Shiril Oberoy hailing from Delhi and ran to rescue him.

“I could connect the police on the second call. The rescue teams were quick in reaching the spot and rescue operations were started,” said Bhardwaj , a software engineer, who sustained head injuries.

“I immediately loaded a five-minute video on my YouTube to send a message to travellers to avoid going to vulnerable spots during the monsoons, adhere to the advisories issued by the administration, do not take hill routes casually and be aware of the topography while travelling,” Bhardwaj said.

“It was luck or maybe I really do not know but the last two days have been the most traumatic in my life,” said Shiril. He added, “There are a lot of ifs and buts now. Had we not given a pass to two vehicles en route to Chitkul, we would have crossed the killer stretch before boulders came shooting down”.

A tempo traveller carrying 11 persons had started from Delhi on Friday. It reached Chitkul on Saturday evening and met with the accident on Sunday afternoon. The passengers were on an eight-day trip to Spiti.

Nine tourists were killed while three, including a local pedestrian, were injured as boulders shooting down the hill hit their vehicle near Batseri on the Sangla-Chitkul road in Kinnaur on Sunday.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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