On March 12, 2018, the Indian Army (IA) rescued several civilians stranded at the Se La Pass on account of heavy snowfall from a situation which had seemed hopeless to those stuck there. While initial reports cursorily mentioned that an Army rescue may have taken place in the area, Delhi Defence Review has learnt from civilians actually rescued by the IA, that the scale of the rescue operation was quite significant and especially commendable, given that only a handful of soldiers were involved in this effort. Indeed, the details revealed by those rescued suggest that it was actually a more arduous undertaking than the IA rescue operation conducted on March 18, last year.
As per the information received from some of the rescued civilians, more than a hundred vehicles got stranded just south of the Se la Pass due to heavy snowfall on the morning of March 12. Slippery road conditions and poor visibility exacerbated matters and a very long traffic jam ensued up to 5 kilometres south of the Se la Pass. What is more, there was no possibility of reversing vehicles caught in the jam to return to the lower reaches near Baisakhi.
Image: A truck stranded on the approach to Se La Pass on March, 12, 2018.
With the number of vehicles stuck growing by the minute, several passengers apparently started to complain about breathing difficulties and the situation even seemed grim for a few. However, at about 1300 hours, some IA troops suddenly materialized, seemingly out of nowhere, and began to manually help the stranded vehicles reverse, as can be seen from the images below.
Image: Indian Army personnel manually helping stranded vehicles reverse.
Image: Indian Army personnel during the rescue effort.
The IA soldiers worked non-stop for many hours till such time that the situation was mitigated in its entirety and all stranded vehicles were back on their way towards Baisakhi. The more critical among those stranded were actually carried by IA soldiers on their backs and brought to Army vehicles positioned at a lower altitude, where they were administered medical aid. It is estimated that just under 700 civilians stranded to the south of the Se La Pass were rescued in this aid effort by the IA. It seems that the rescue was essentially conducted by IA personnel without the use of any specialized equipment.
It is to be noted, that DDR has received the above information from tourists stranded to the south of the Se la Pass. It is assumed that a similar rescue effort would have been mounted by the IA on the north side of Se la as well.
All images in this story are a from a tourist who witnessed the Indian Army’s rescue effort.
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