After being stranded for two days due to a bridge collapse caused by heavy rainfall, a successful rescue operation was carried out to save 293 pilgrims who were trapped on the Ransi-Gaundar-Madhmaheshwar trek route, which connects the Kedarnath shrine. The pilgrims were safely rescued using helicopters and ropes, with 190 of them airlifted from Nanu to Ransi and 103 guided across the river using ropes to reach Gaundar village, from where they continued their journey to Ransi.
The operation was a joint effort involving local administration, disaster management teams, police, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), and local villagers. The rescue began at 6 AM on Wednesday. An impromptu helipad was set up in Nanu for the Trans Bharat Aviation helicopter. Around 60 sorties were made by the helicopter, successfully transporting 190 pilgrims, including a pregnant woman, from Nanu to Ransi. Meanwhile, 49 pilgrims were guided across the river using ropes to reach Gaundar village.
Deputy District Magistrate Jitendra Verma confirmed the successful rescue of all 293 stranded pilgrims. Helicopters also delivered essential supplies and provisions to Madhmaheshwar. The collapse of the pedestrian steel guarder bridge near Bansatori, close to the Saraswati River, had cut off communication between Gaundar village and the entire district. This led to the entrapment of 293 pilgrims on the trek route to the Madhmaheshwar temple. Due to bad weather on Monday, rescue efforts couldn’t be executed.
On August 15, with the cooperation of SDRF, police, and disaster management teams, 52 pilgrims were successfully guided to Gaundar village from the other side of the river using ropes. Village council member Vinod Rana and village head Veer Singh Panwar played crucial roles in coordinating with local residents during the rescue operation.
Local youth, adults, and women actively participated in the rescue campaign. Many offered biscuits and water to the stranded pilgrims. Villagers Saroji Devi, Puja Devi, Shivdayi Devi, Sulekh, and others expressed their satisfaction at being able to help those in need. Subdivisional Magistrate Devan Singh Rana remarked that every villager of Gaundar played their part in the campaign. Neelam Devi, Jonki Devi, Vishambhari Devi, Shivdayi Devi, Rai Singh, Sandeep, Kailash, Himanshu, Sundar Singh, and more shared their experiences of the challenging situation. District council member Vinod Rana emphasized the importance of a solid action plan to mitigate such events, as though disaster events can’t be prevented, minimizing their impact requires thorough planning.