Uttarakhand trekking mishap: As death toll rises to 9, Karnataka minister oversees rescue ops

Bodies of nine deceased trekkers will be airlifted to Bengaluru after embalming process at a local hospital in Dehradun: Krishna Byre Gowda

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 06, 2024 | 11:03 AM Updated Jun 06, 2024 | 6:55 PM

Karnataka Minister Krishna Byre Gowda with the rescued trekkers

In the Uttarakhand trekking mishap, the death toll of trekkers from Karnataka has risen from five to nine, officials informed.

Bodies of the nine trekkers would be flown to Bengaluru via Delhi on Friday, officials said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda left for Dehradun to monitor and coordinate the rescue operations.

The mishap occurred in Sahastratal Alpine Lake, situated at an altitude of 4,100-4,400 metres in the upper Himalayan region.

Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said, “We have shifted all nine bodies from Dehradun airport to the hospital for embalming. After embalming, bodies will be transported in ambulances to Delhi airport. We are booking space for tomorrow morning’s Delhi-Bengaluru flights. As the flights are booked, we will intimate arrival details of the deceased persons.”

Meanwhile, all the 13 trekkers who were rescued are likely to reach Bengaluru by Thursday evening, officials said.

A 22-member trekking team was sent by Himalayan View Trekking Agency, Maneri, on 29 May, on a 35-km long trek from Uttarkashi.

The team constituted 18 trekkers from Karnataka and one from Maharashtra, besides three local guides, Uttarkashi District Magistrate Meharban Singh Bisht said.

The team was to return by 7 June, but lost its way due to bad weather as it approached Sahastratal from the last base camp, Bisht said.

The deceased

The four bodies recovered in the wee hours of Thursday have been identified as of, Padmanabha KP, ⁠Venkatesh Prasad K, ⁠Anita Rangappa, and ⁠Padmini Hegde.

The five deceased on Wednesday were identified as Sindhu Wakelam, Asha Sudhakar, Sujata Mungurwadi, Vinayak Mungurwadi and Chitra Praneeth.

The minister further informed that the postmortem of the deceased is underway in Uttarkashi, and at around 12 noon, the nine bodies will be airlifted to Dehradun, where they will be embalmed at a local hospital.

Thanking the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand Radha Raturi and Secretary of Disaster Management Ranjit Sinha for their swift response, Gowda said, “I requested their help to arrange an aircraft to transport the bodies to Bengaluru. They have agreed to help.”

The rescued trekkers have been identified as Soumya Canale, Smruthi Dolas, Sheena Lakshmi, S Shiva Jyoti, Anil Jamtige Arunachal Bhatt, Bharat Bommana Gouder, Madhu Kiran Reddy, Jaiprakash BS, S Sudhakar, Vinay MK, Vivek Sridhar, Naveen A, and ⁠Ritika Jindal.

Among the 13, Gowda met eight on Wednesday in Dehradun.

“I spoke to one of the trekkers and gathered accurate information about the current situation there. The work to rescue the rest is in progress and the Government of Karnataka has already started all its efforts to rescue the trekkers. I left for Dehradun on Wednesday afternoon to assist in this operation,” he said.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too on Wednesday instructed the officials concerned to take necessary action for the safe rescue of trekkers and to bring the bodies of the deceased to the state immediately.

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‘Stranded due to blizzard’

In a statement released by Krishna Byre Gowda’s office, the minister said that a team of trekkers from Karnataka started their trek on Tuesday morning in the high-altitude area of Shastratal Mayali in Uttarakhand.

After reaching the destination, the team tried to return to the camp again. However, on the way back, the weather turned completely bad at 2 pm due to a blizzard and they were stranded.

“Last night, we came to know that trekkers from Karnataka are in danger due to adverse weather conditions. As soon as we came to know the matter, the Uttarakhand government, the Mountaineering Federation of India and the Home Department of the Central Government were contacted through the district administration. With their help, the rescue operation is being carried out,” he said.

According to Gowda, emergency rescue operations started on Tuesday evening with the help of locally available helicopters. Also, an Indian Air Force helicopter reached Uttarkashi at 9 am on Wednesday to rescue the trekkers, and a disaster management team started moving towards the camp by land route this morning.

Also Read: Five trekkers from Karnataka die in Uttarakhand’s extreme weather conditions

Rescue operations hampered due to weather conditions

Later in the evening, a statement released by the Chief Minister’s Office said that bodies of those who had gone on a trek to Shastratal Mayali in Uttarakhand and died due to inclement weather would be handed over to their families and the rest of the trekkers who were rescued would be brought safely to the state.

In this regard, the Chief Minister has spoken to the Revenue Minister as well as the rescued trekkers in Dehradun over the phone.

“It is very painful to know that the death toll has risen to nine. I pray for the departed souls to rest in peace. All those rescued should be safely brought home without any disturbance. Instructions have been given to Minister Krishna Byre Gowda that all the necessary procedures should be carried out immediately in order to hand over the bodies to the families,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Speaking to the trekkers who were rescued and brought to a safe place, the Chief Minister assured that all efforts are being made at the level of the government to bring everyone safely.

“Those who have already been rescued through the rescue operation have been brought back to a safe area and some trekkers are yet to be rescued. Adverse weather is severely hampering rescue operations and our government is trying its best to bring everyone to safety,” the Chief Minister added.

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula, with PTI inputs)