KOLKATA – A group of 40 tourists from Bengal and Tripura is trapped without food and water in a lonely stretch of mountain highway cracking up from
landslides between Pithoragarh and Lohaghat in Uttarakhand.

When last reports came in late in the evening, work to repair the highway had been called off because of darkness and rainfall and no rescuer had reached the spot. The district administration in Pithoragarh said it was helpless. The tourists, among them five children, were travelling in a bus as part of a conducted tour organized by a Kolkata-based company. The bus left Pithoragarh at 9 am but the tourists said no one warned them about the dangers ahead.

“Landslides had hit the highway since morning but we weren’t aware of it,” said Suman Bhattacharya of Agartala, whose family, too, was on the bus. “Till Ghat, some 35 km before Lohaghat, there was no problem. All hell broke loose after that. Huge chunks of rock have been falling, trees have got uprooted. At least 100 cars are lined up behind our vehicle.”