50,000 pilgrims rescued

50,000 pilgrims rescued
Highlights

Ground report from Srikanth in Rishikesh A major calamity in the recent times, the deluge of Char Dham is...

Ground report from Srikanth in Rishikesh

A major calamity in the recent times, the deluge of Char Dham is feared to have claimed large number of lives. However, so far, the officials have retrieved 556 dead bodies. Those who are saved are being shifted to safe places on war-footing and several hundreds of the pilgrims have already left for their destinations. It is feared that about 6,000 people are still stranded at various places including Kedarnath, Badarinath and other areas. At Rambagh, which is situated below Kedarnath, several houses and lodges where the pilgrims were put up got washed away presenting a grim picture of the calamity.

Places like Gangotri and Badarinath are yet to be reached by the authorities to assess the loss of life and property. It is estimated that 4,000 people are stranded still at Badarinath. The Army officials say that they would be airlifted. Over 60 helicopters were pressed into service. Officials estimated that so far 50,000 people were rescued and 40,000 more to be evacuated from the affected areas. Meanwhile the Met department has announced that there would be heavy rain once again from June 23 in the upstream areas of Ganga which has now become a major cause of concern.

The Army has built bailey bridges across the river at various points which facilitated the transport of flood victims. The Army officials said that roads were restored to Kedarnath and Badarinath. They estimated that four to five bus loads of passengers from Andhra Pradesh are still stranded at various places. A heavy fog enveloped the area hampering the relief work. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde who visited the area promised all possible relief work. He said that it had become very difficult to identify the bodies.

Meanwhile, more and more reports of deaths are trickling in. It is feared that many people are still buried under the slush. Many dead bodies were seen at Triveni Ghat and the rescue workers were extricating the bodies from the flooded river. According to reports, a glacier atop Himalayas gave in resulting in heavy floods. The bodies were kept in mortuary at the government hospital for the purpose of identification.

rescue team

Mahendar, who came from Mancheryal said that about 20 of his relatives came here and he was searching for them. He hoped that they were safe. "Though all the twenty people were staying at one place, they got divided into three groups in the melee," he said. A north Indian who came here in search of his father from Ghaziapur, Uttar Pradesh, said that he learnt that his father's body was lying somewhere. He appealed to the authorities to bring down the body and handed it over to him for performing last rites.

Relief & rescue on war footing

  • Shinde sets 3-day deadline for completion of rescue work
  • PM personally monitoring the situation
  • Special trains from Haridwar running to various destinations
  • Army opens the all important road link

Venkat Parsa New Delhi: Amid reports of possible rains, the Government has stepped up and intensified evacuation of people stranded in the hilly terrain of the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. Over 33,000 stranded pilgrims were rescued, as Indian Air Force deployed 43 aircraft under Operation Rahat. The Government has released Rs 145 crore to the Uttarakhand Government under the States Disaster Relief Fund as Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde set a three-day deadline for the completion of rescue operations.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is personally monitoring the situation, was briefed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth on the rescue operations. According to his account, Army, Air Force, paramilitary forces and others involved in the rescue operations have already evacuated 66,000 people and 56 helicopters, including those of the Army and the Air Force, are conducting 220 sorties per day, evacuating stranded people and distributing relief material.

The Cabinet Secretary briefed the Prime Minister after holding a meeting with Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Air Chief, Vice-Chief of Army, Director-General of Border Roads Organisation, Director-General of ITBP and former Home Secretary V K Duggal, who has been appointed as nodal officer on the flood situation. NDMA Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy has gone to Uttarakhand on a two-day visit to take stock of the situation on the ground, cancelling his engagements in Tokyo on June 24.

The Railway Ministry is running special trains from Haridwar to help the stranded pilgrims to return free of cost to their respective destinations. Railway Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge gave directions to the Railway Board to arrange special trains to evacuate stranded persons from the calamity-hit Uttarakhand areas. He has been reviewing the arrangements regularly with the Railway Board.

The Army has opened the all-important road link from Sonprayag to Gauri Kund, which is the base camp for trek to Kedarnath. Approximately 1000 people stranded at Gauri Kund are now being evacuated along the newly-opened road to Sonprayag and Tehri. Besides evacuating the stranded people, the Army Aviation helicopters flew sorties and delivered 13,000 kg of food, fuel and medicines.

The Army team heli-landed 12 km inside Pindari glacier in Bageshwar district of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand to link up and evacuate 50 people stranded on the glacier. Four flood relief columns of Army are assisting the civil administration in evacuating people from flood affected areas of Pilibhit, Laksar, Mawana and parts of East Delhi.

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