Yangyel Lhaden

De-Suups and police in Thimphu rescued eight people, in two different groups, from the jungles above Thimphu in the early hours of Sunday, in a search and rescue operation that started around 9:30pm on Saturday.

Three trekkers who were doing the Druk Path trek from Paro to Thimphu lost their way around Pum-La. Around 9pm, they called the toll free number (1411) of the Coordination and Media Centre (CMC) for Covid-19 managed by De-Suups. 

Thimphu De-Suup Event Coordinator for Covid-19, Rinchen Tshering said that after informing the police, De-Suups dispatched two teams from the Quick Response Team to search for the lost trekkers in two directions from Phajoding base at around 9:30pm.

After tracing their mobile phone signals, De-Suups found that they were around the Pum-La area. They were asked not to stray away and light a fire to make it easier for the search team. One of the trekkers had a whistle which helped the rescue team locate them. The trekkers were rescued between 10pm and 11pm.

Meanwhile, while the rescue team was climbing down with the three trekkers, the CMC received another call from five hikers who reported that they had lost their way.

The hikers, five college students, lost their way while returning from the Phajoding monastery.

CMC organised another rescue team with additional seven De-Suups and four policemen. The search team was divided into two. One team started the search from above Sangaygang and the other from the Phajoding monastery base.

Coordinator Rinchen Tshering said that unlike the first rescue, the second team was harder to find as they started to move on and made locating  them difficult even with GPS. They were first traced to be in between Chokhortse and Phajoding. They were finally rescued from the junction between Phajoding and Chokhortse at around 3:00am.

“There was miscommunication whereby the students were informed to move while no one from the team called them to move,” Rinchen Tshering said. “It was challenging as the fog and rain reduced visibility,” he added.

One of the five hikers was injured after the hikers started running away from possible wild animal attack.  Rinchen Tshering said that one of the students had sprained his leg and suffered injuries on his chest. He was carried down.

The team reached the Phajoding base at 5:00 am and the injured was taken to the hospital. The three trekkers were handed over to their relatives while the four students were handed over to Thimphu City Police.