Ladakh : Tourist deaths spur acclimatisation order

High number of casualties due to altitude-related complications this years was the the trigger behind the Ladakh administration’s recent mandate of 48-hour acclimatisation for tourists.

Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) authorities say within less than two months of the tourist season, 11 deaths have already been reported from Leh’s higher locations, including Pangong Tso lake at 4,225 metres above sea level, Changla (5,360 metres) and Khardung La (5,359 metres).

Chief Executive Councillor of LAHDC, Tashi Gyalson, told The Indian Express, “11 deaths due to altitude-related complications took place within two months. Of these, four were reported only in first ten days of June.”

Data shows that casualties among tourists in Leh region till June 10 were the highest in three years as 15 deaths were reported, of which 11were due to altitude sickness. The number for the years 2021 and 2020 was six and one, respectively.

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There has been a spike in air travellers, who, experts say, get lesser time to acclimatise. In 2021, of the 3.14 lakh tourists, over 2.14 lakh reached by air. This year’s data till March shows 97% tourists arriving by air. Locals say there was a spurt in the tourist inflow since the Covid-19 restrictions were eased, which they call ‘revenge tourism’.

“Tourists start visiting high altitude areas right on the day they land in Leh or the next day. They are under the impression that they are fit and nothing would happen,” officials said.

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