Eighth pilgrim to Mount Kailash dies

June 18th, 2009 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 18 (IANS) A 46-year-old Indian woman died in a Kathmandu hospital Thursday after battling a clot in her brain for six days, taking toeight the toll of Indian pilgrims who perished during or after going to Mt. Kailash in Tibet by land from Nepal.
Gita Ravichandram, who came from Pondicherry for a once-in-a-lifetime visit to one of the holiest Hindu destinations in the world, died in Kathmandu’s Institute for Neurological and Allied Sciences due to sino-venous thrombosis, doctors told IANS.

“She had returned to Kathmandu from the Kailash parikrama Friday night,” said her daughter. “At night, she fell from her bed.”

Gita was rushed to the private hospital Saturday morning. She lay in a coma in the intensive care unit, battling for her life.

Doctors said a clot had blocked a vein in her brain, preventing the supply of blood, a condition which could have been caused due to the high altitude of the Tibetan plateau.

“We had spoken to her two days before (she fell ill),” her daughter said. “She was absolutely fine.”

Gita was a part-time yoga teacher, who, her family said, was absolutely fit physically.

One of the members of the group she had travelled with to Mt. Kailash, P. Mohan, a 54-year-old from Madurai, died last Friday after being shuttled to and from the Nepal-Tibet border without receiving medical care.

Fellow travellers said Mohan’s death as well as plight of his wife, who had to also face the rigours of bringing the body back to Nepal from a foreign country, had badly affected Gita.

“We have heard so many versions,” said Gita’s brother, who along with his niece and mother arrived in Kathmandu from Chennai Sunday after being informed that Gita was seriously ill.

“We don’t know what to believe.”

The family members, who did not want to be named, also said they were not sure whether they would call for action against the tour operator.

“After all, she died in Nepal,” said her brother, “though the condition could have started in Tibet. But as we were not there, we don’t know what really happened.”

Gita’s body will be flown out to Chennai Friday.

“This is my first trip to Kathmandu,” her brother said. “It’s also going to be my last.”

On Wednesday, another Kalilash pilgrim was discharged from the same hospital and flown back to New Delhi.

Mohan Lal Chandok, 67, had a stroke after an exhausting journey in freezing temperatures with inadequate food, medical supplies and accommodation.

His wife told IANS twice they were forced to stay in their cars in freezing temperatures till 3 a.m.

Chandok is speech impaired and his right side is paralysed.

At least one pilgrim, Ahmedabad consultant Rajendra Harsh, whose wife had to be airlifted after she drifted into a comatose state, has already filed a complaint against the tour operator and begun a public campaign to get the agency’s licences in India, Nepal and China revoked for criminal negligence.

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