Now rescued, all the shepherds were suffering from snow blindness, hypothermia, hypertension and cold injuries. Their sheep – more than 200 – succumbed.
Twenty shepherds trapped for close to a week in snow 3½-feet (1.07 meters) deep in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir were rescued on Thursday by jawans of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in a three-day operation.
The shepherds, along with their livestock, were stuck in the upper reaches of Ladakh due to unprecedented snowfall before ITBP rescued them. Several of them have suffered snow blindness and are in critical condition. Their livestock, however, could not survive.
The shepherds, called ‘riboos’ in the local language, were trapped in Hanley-Chumur area of Ladakh and had lost all contact with their families. They had also run out of food and hadn’t eaten for days.
When the ITBP team found them after a day-long trek in the snow clad area, the security personnel found 20 shepherds, including seven women and five children, with more than 200 dead sheep.
The shepherds were immediately provided medical aid and some of them were brought to the base on stretchers.
“This year, Ladakh received unprecedented, record breaking snowfall in the month of February which perhaps led the riboos to miscalculate the weather. Due to the heavy snowfall, the rescue mission to evacuate these shepherds was a very difficult task. Our men had to plough themselves miles in the snow before they located these men, women and children,” a senior Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) official said.
The snow was 3.5-feet deep and temperatures were as low as minus 20 degrees when the operation was being conducted, the official said.
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