Six of the eight trekkers — who went missing in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh on Friday — have been rescued after they were located during an aerial survey. Two others are safe as well, said local authorities. The rescue efforts, which have been stopped due to bad weather, will be resumed in the morning.
The seven students — from Punjab’s Sant Longonwal Institute of Engineering and Technology — and their trekking instructor had got lost during bad weather near the Chandrakhani pass area. No contact could be established with them for three days.
Three teams of ITBP had been pressed into rescue work after teams from a local mountaineering institute and the police failed due to the weather. A helicopter was pressed into service on Saturday, but failed to make much headway due to the weather.
Now, the ITBP teams are approaching Chandrakani pass from three different routes – Patnikhal, Bijli Mahadev and Malana village.
All the students are final year classmates from the Sangrur-based institute. Two of them are from Himachal Pradesh, two from Uttar Pradesh, and three from Punjab.
“The last contact was made by the group on March 11 and now their phone has been switched off,” said local magistrate Jyoti Rana.
The college authorities said the students had left on March 8 without informing them. The authorities came to know only on Friday that they have gone missing.
Kullu Superintendent of Police Padam Chand said they got a call from a group of people who said they had lost their way. “We have not been able to find them. We don’t know anything yet. But our rescue teams have found their footprints. Three teams were tracking their footprints, but they had to return because of heavy snowfall,” he told reporters.
The parents, along with a team from the college and local government officials, have already left for Kullu.
Subhash Chandra, father of one of the students, Chetan Shori, said efforts were on to trace his son and his classmates. “We pray for their safe return,” he said.
Dozens of trekkers have gone missing or have died in the valley in last two decades. In August last year, Polish national Bruno Muschalik had lost his way and there was no trace of him ever since.