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'Rancho' to comfort students of his school

Ajay Sura, Times of India (TNN, 11 August 2010) download article in PDF format - Rancho will visit 'his own' school — five days after flash floods devastated Druk Padma Karpo School in Leh.

Aamir Khan who shot the climax of his hit film '3 Idiots' in the school called the principal and said he'd like to spend time with the students to get them out of their shock and also help rebuild the school building.

Principal Prasad Eledath said Aamir called him on Tuesday and asked him to send two proposals, spelling out short-term and long-term plans for rebuilding the school. He said the actor asked him to describe the happenings of that black day and inquired about the extent of damage to all the buildings on the campus. "With most classrooms and the campus being full of slush, a lot of labour will have to go into clearing this. We also told him how computers in the IT room got damaged," said Eledath.

When he told Aamir that the students were in shock after witnessing nature's fury, he promised he'd visit them as soon as possible to comfort them.

"After assessing the actual loss to the school, we'll send the proposal to him, seeking his assistance in rebuilding the only green school of the Himalayas," said the principal.

The clean-up and relief work at the school was started on Tuesday with the help of staff, the CRPF, nuns and volunteers. The principal said the objective was to restart the school in a phased manner, with class 8 commencing on Thursday, classes 6 and 7 the next week, and classes 3-5 in a couple of weeks.

Out of total 550 children enrolled, around 200 living in school residences were safely evacuated by Army and the local villagers. They are shifted to Shey Palace, on high ground, for safety.

23 foreigners dead as toll tops 170

IAF and Army Deloyed For Relief Services

M Saleem Pandit & Anand Bodh, Times of India (Srinagar/Chandigarh, 11 August 2011) - Three French, one Italian and a Spaniard were among 23 foreigners killed in the Leh cloudburst. Of the 170 bodies recovered so far, 155 have been identified. The bodies of five foreigners have been identified as: Augareils Hendri, Hellot Jacques and Daniel Hauryn (citizens of France), Marro Mas Maria Lourdes, Spain, and Ricardo Pitton, Italy.

Leh additional deputy commissioner Mohammad Hanief said over 150 foreign tourists, trapped at Lamayuru — a tourist attraction in Leh known for its Buddhist monasteries and monks — were airlifted to safer places on Tuesday. Thirty one persons were still missing, Hanief added. Army has lost its seven personnel. Three JCOs and 25 others are missing.

In New Delhi, the Union government has set up a special control room in the ministry of external affairs to streamline the collation and dissemination of information on foreigners affected in Leh. "Information about Indians and foreign nationals who have lost their lives, have been injured or stranded in different parts, is being collated by agencies involved in rescue and relief effort," an official release by the MEA said.

More than 70 people, including 49 security personnel, injured in the cloudburst, were on Tuesday airlifted by IAF to Udhampur from Leh for treatment, IAF group captain PM Vithalkar told a news agency. Relief and rescue operations were continuing in Leh town and 12 surrounding villages, Hanief said.

As Leh remains cut off with the rest of the world for the fifth consecutive day, thousands of people, including migrant labourers, are still waiting to be airlifted. With telephone lines not working and power supply snapped, stranded people could not contact their near and dear ones.

Meanwhile, Border Roads Organisation personnel are engaged in restoring traffic on NH-1D. A 4-5 kilometre stretch between Leh and Khalsi have been washed away. BRO personnel are making five temporary bridges to restore traffic.

Around 150 trucks with essential goods and 100 oil tankers are stranded at Khoksar and Keylong. All other roads are closed. Essential commodities are being supplied through helicopters.

Two IAF AN-32s with eight tonnes of blankets and tents have been sent from Sirsa. An IL-76 with six tonnes of BSNL equipment and 15 trained disaster management specialists too have arrived. Army helicopters are engaged in supplying ration and medicines to Phyang and Nimu.