SHIMLA: As rains subsided in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, the evacuation of over 1,500 tourists still stranded in snow-marooned Lahaul-Spiti district continued on a war footing, an official said.
"There was no heavy rainfall in the state but precipitation at many places since Tuesday," a Met official told IANS. Most rivers which were in spate saw a decline in water levels. Similar weather was likely to continue till Friday.
The government and the Indian Air Force (IAF) stepped up efforts to airlift the thousands stranded since September 22 after landslides in different spots snapped road links on the hills.
Early snowfall in the higher reaches and cloudbursts devastated large parts of the state between September 22 and 24. Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti were the worst affected districts.
"Once evacuated, the Indian Air Force and the state government helicopters will bring the rescued to Kullu town," Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS.
The IAF has deployed three helicopters.
A total of 300 people were evacuated by Tuesday evening, most of whom were faculty and students from IITs Mandi, Roorkee, Guwahati and Mumbai and some foreigners.
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, affecting a large number of tourists. They have been stranded at a number of isolated locations, the Broader Roads Organisation (BRO) said.
The BRO was clearing snow from roads. Some stretches have over eight feet of snow.
Shimla on Wednesday recorded a low of 14 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 0.7 degrees in Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district. It was 7 degrees in Manali and 6.4 degrees in Kalpa in Kinnaur district.
The water level in the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries has started to recede, a government spokesman said.