Eighty Czechs stranded in Ladakh after flash floods

Leh, India, photo: CTK

At least eighty Czechs remain stranded in the Himalayan region of Ladakh where flash floods killed 156 people at the weekend. Most of them have already contacted the Czech embassy in New Delhi and are waiting to get on flights home, but the fate of a small group who were travelling on their own remains uncertain. Radio Prague called the Czech ambassador to India Miloslav Stašek for the latest news.

Leh,  India,  photo: CTK
“We are still missing eight people about whom we do not have any information so far but we are trying to establish contact with their relatives in the Czech Republic to find out if they have not called home since the floods and to try and ascertain their movements at the time.

In general, we have been busy helping Czechs leave the Ladakh area in the wake of the floods, getting them on flights home via New Delhi. So far we have managed to get forty people back to the Czech Republic, and another 80 are awaiting transportation from Ladakh to New Delhi. Another group of Czech tourists will be able to leave on an Indian flight tomorrow morning and several Czechs have decided to continue with their programme in India. Some Czech tourists have decided to stay in order to help the authorities with rescue work, and to support the locals who lost everything in these massive floods. For them to take place at this time of year is unusual.”

Leh,  India,  photo: CTK
The situation there must be quite chaotic. Where are they living and when will they be able to leave?

“Most of our people are in different hotels around Ladakh. According to our information the situation is serious around Ladakh Airport where tourists are camping out, waiting to get on a flight home. But as far as I know there are no Czech tourists among them.”

I understand there was a group of Czech botanists working in the mountains. When were they heard from last? And do we know anything about the missing people?

“Yes, as far as the group of botanists is concerned we succeeded in contacting their relatives late last night and we know from them that they are safe and sound. They were not affected by the floods and are continuing in their research. But we have no information about the eight missing tourists.”

What about Czechs who are thinking about going to this region for some reason. Would you advise them to put off their trip?

Photo: CTK
“I would definitely advise them to postpone it. Because the situation is really very serious. Communication lines are down, roads are damaged. The only possible way to get there and back is plane. So definitely the situation is very serious and we have put a notice on our website advising people not to travel to northern India. This is not only valid for Ladakh but also for Jammu and Kashmir where there are political problems and clashes between civilians and the army and police.”