5,000 feared killed

5,000 feared killed

Kedarnath cleared; thousands still stranded With rains expected today, multi-agency operations race against time to rescue the stranded BRO...

Kedarnath cleared; thousands still stranded

  • With rains expected today, multi-agency operations race against time to rescue the stranded
  • BRO launches massive programme to rebuild roads in the entire flood-hit areas
  • Many roads reopened; temporary bridges airlifted

Venkat Parsa

New Delhi/Dehradun: Kedarnath Valley, the temple town which was the epicentre of the Uttarakhand rain fury, was cleared on Sunday of all stranded pilgrims, as rescuers battled rains to evacuate 3,000 more people in the disaster in which the death toll is likely to cross 5,000.

With Met department warning of adverse weather in the region from Monday to June 30, the multi-agency operations raced against time to try to rescue remaining 19,000 stranded people stuck in three areas including Badrinath. Air operations had to be also briefly suspended due to bad weather.

As stepped up rescue operations amid intermittent rains led to evacuation of more than 3,000 pilgrims and tourists out of the stranded 22,000 people, the State government said at least 5,000 people must have perished in Uttarakhand in the worst ever deluge to have struck the hill State.

"At least 5,000 people must have been killed in the deluge that inflicted heavy damage on vast tracts of land especially in Kedarnath valley," Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya told reporters at the Jollygrant airport on his return from an aerial survey of the affected areas. The official death toll as of Sunday was put at 680 while Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the death toll is likely to be around 1,000.

resue ops in uttarakhand

Rescue operations moun- ted by the combined Armed Forces resumed on Sunday, after it was temporarily halted in view of the intermittent rain in Uttarakhand, where pilgrims are still stranded in different locations. Helicopters could not operate in the region earlier in the day due to intermittent rains and a thick cover of fog. Nearly 80,000 pilgrims have been evacuated and 8,000 were airlifted on Sunday. Kedarnath, Ghangria and Jungle Chatti have been cleared of stranded passengers. Water supply has been restored in Joshimath, Badrinath, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has launched a massive programme for rebuilding roads in the entire floods-affected areas of Uttarakhand. A total of about 13 km length of road at 100 places has been breached. Major landslides have occurred at 110 places and nine bridges have either been washed away or damaged. The BRO has pressed into service more than 90 excavators and bulldozers. About 4,000 BRO personnel and workers have been deployed in Uttarakhand alone for immediate clearance of roads to facilitate relief and rescue work. Pre-fabricated bridges have been airlifted to link breached areas.

Many roads reopened


Rishikesh-Dharaslu-Gangotri Road up to Uttarkashi has been opened to vehicular traffic. Beyond Uttarkashi there are major breaches in roads at many locations. Road clearance work has also started from Gangotri side and a part of road between Gangotri and Bhaironghati has also been opened.

Rishikesh-Joshimath-Badrinath-Mana Road has been opened up to Govindghat. There are major breaches beyond Govindghat. The bridge at Lambagarh has been washed away. Plans are to launch a new bridge at this place. A foot bridge is also being set up to facilitate crossing by foot. The road from both Govindghat side and Badrinath side is being cleared. The road clearance by BRO has enabled the stranded passengers to leave from the Badrinath and the Hemkund Saheb area.

Rudraprayag-Gaurikund Road is the worst-hit in Uttarakhand. Presently, the road has been cleared up to 15 km. Now, efforts are on to clear the rest. Many other lateral roads have suffered extensive damages and are closed now.

AP arranges copter to airlift stranded

Hyderabad: As per the instructions of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, a helicopter has been arranged for airlifting the stranded pilgrims of Andhra Pradesh. The Chief Minister, who is touring East Godavari district, enquired about the relief and rescue operations being undertaken to bring back the stranded pilgrims. As directed by him, Minister for Civil Supplies D Sridhar Babu, stationed at Dehradun, is closely monitoring the relief and rescue operations.

A 12-member medical team will be positioned in Dehradun and Haridwar for a week from Monday. Another 10-member medical team will be working at A P Bhavan for a week. These are in addition to the 4 teams consisting of 10 members each which were sent earlier to Dehradun and Haridwar to help the pilgrims. A special train will run from Haridwar to Andhra Pradesh on Monday. Besides free food and medical aid, Rs 2000 will be given to the needy returning pilgrims to meet incidental expenses.

Round-the-clock control rooms are working at the Secretariat in Hyderabad, at all district headquarters, AP Bhavan in New Delhi, Dehradun and Haridwar. Two IAS officers, Commissioner, Disaster Management, T Radha, and Member-Secretary, AP Pollution Control Board, Sanjay Kumar, who were deputed are closely monitoring the rescue operations. Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister spoke over phone with Ministers Sridhar Babu, Danam Nagender and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Balram Naik and his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna.

Shiv Ling under mud and silt

Uttarkashi (PTI): Nature's fury has devastated the once serene region encompassing the majestic Kedarnath temple, which has been submerged in about 10 feet of debris, turning the area into a ghost town, but the sanctum sanctorum and the shrine bell are safe. The temple, though seemingly resilient from outside, bore the brunt of the rampaging flood waters as its ground floor is almost completely submerged in slush. Where pilgrims once sat and sang devotional hymns and offered 'aartis' at the 8th century shrine devoted to Lord Shiva, dead bodies are now strewn around in a maudlin manner.

The temple bell, the 'Shiv Ling' and other idols are safe but under several feet of mud and silt, officials said. What was once a spot for devotees to seek the Almighty's blessings has now become a washed-out river bed, with mud and silt covering practically every surface and submerging nearby buildings and structures under layers of debris. Noting that Kedarnath town has suffered the worst damage, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said, there will be no Kedarnath Yatra for at least next two years.

No politics, BJP tells Cong

New Delhi (PTI): BJP on Sunday criticised Congress for making political statements over the Uttarakhand tragedy, saying the ruling party's leaders in the state and the Centre should instead focus on relief and rescue operations.On Narendra Modi's criticism by some Congress leaders, BJP spokesman Srikant Sharma said Gujarat is sensitive to such tragedies as it has suffered and dealt with in the past. "The Congress is suffering from NaMonia and instead of making statements against the BJP leaders, they should focus on relief work and rescue thousands of those stranded in the tragedy-struck state," Sharma said.

Biggest ever operation by IAF

  • Kedarnath Valley completely evacuated
  • Operations are now focussed on Gaurikund, Harshil
  • Close to 30 choppers are making sorties

Dehradun (PTI): Indian Air Force has launched its biggest ever helicopter-based rescue operation to provide succour to the stranded people in flood and rain-hit Uttarakhand, a top IAF commander said on Sunday. "Given the current pace of operations, the IAF feels it would take about a week's time to evacuate all those affected. However, the time period is just an estimate as all depends on weather gods," Air Commodore Rajesh Isser told PTI here.

"This is the biggest ever helicopter-based operation the IAF has launched in its history. Close to 30 choppers are making sorties here day in and day out. The results are slow but will improve with better weather conditions," Isser, the Task Force Commander for IAF, who has been on the ground here since June 17, said. He added they have evacuated, through air sorties, more than 6,000 people and the count is going up every hour. The Air Commodore, who is supervising the entire fleet of choppers and fixed-wing air assets of the IAF here, said the Kedarnath Valley has been totally evacuated now.

"Bad weather is what is troubling us but still we are inter-mixing the aircraft variety, ranging from small to large planes," he said, adding that depending on the weather it could take about a week to complete the evacuation. He said air operations are now focussed on areas like Gaurikund and Harshil and other places which were untouched. The force has added 50 more para-commandos in the affected areas to the present strength of 90 such troops, who are adept at special skills in rescue tactics.

Isser said new tracks for able-bodied men to move on foot are opening up and that is a silver lining. "We are landing our choppers at places where people have been brought from upper reaches and expect that the challenge of bad weather would not trouble us much," he said.

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