After the disaster in Ladakh, most tourists left as soon as possible. Some of them, however, remained to help with cleaning up the mud, searching for missing persons and restoring roads and bridges.

Here is report from Rolf Pessel. He lives and works in Basel and invited us to give a lecture in May 2011 at the University in Basel about the (historical) backgrounds as the cause of the status of Buddhist nuns in Ladakh.

Hello everyone,

I had a really exciting time in Leh which ended with the catastrophe.

An incredible thunder storm in the night of August 6 resulted into this devastating disaster. In Leh alone at least 160 people were killed. We were stuck there for three days, because both the airport and roads were washed away.

We have used the time to help where necessary. Because my partner is a doctor she knew the hospital and we went over there. We wanted a taxi, but the whole city was closed, there was no vehicle to get. Coincidentally, we found a motorcycle rental, so after a lot of talking we were able to rent one.

hospital ruined in Leh

We did not know that the hospital had been hit, but saw it upon arrival. We were already there before the staff arrived and began to evacuate the remains of the building which had become completely useless.

But the people organized themselves quickly. A First Aid Post was set up and tourists doctors operated on cots. Claudine, who is a gynecologist, has mainly dealt with women giving birth. We went to another hospital, five kilometers away, which was not finished yet. Our engine helped to get us there. But there was no water, no electricity and no ways for communication, no gas station, all shops are closed because many people had lost family or were helping with the excavation of houses and people. The suffering we faced was terrible.

Elsewhere there was also a lot of damage, as in Karsha (Zangskar) where the houses of monks and a large warehouse were washed away, plus three bridges.

In Basgo, where a few hours after we drove through 14 people went down in the abyss and died and the bridge was washed away. On this site we found about the disaster in Choglamsar:

But we didn't know there was also damage done to the new nunnery in Nyerma.

Kind regards,

Rolf Pessel


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