Rescue ops to be over by Sat

Rescue ops to be over by Sat

In IAF's biggest & toughest operation, over 1 lakh people air-lifted More than 1,800 still stranded Guard of honour for chopper victims today ...

  • In IAF's biggest & toughest operation, over 1 lakh people air-lifted
  • More than 1,800 still stranded
  • Guard of honour for chopper victims today

New Delhi (Agencies): In one of the biggest and toughest rescue operations the world has ever seen over one lakh stranded people were rescued from flood-ravaged Uttarakhand by Thursday. In another two days the rescue operation could be over. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the total number rescued stood at 1,04,095. While the air force is flying out people from inaccessible areas, the Army, ITBP, NDRF and unnamed volunteers have trekked hazardous mountains to bring people to safety.

Operation Rahat by the IAF is the biggest rescue mission launched by it in its history and world. "We owe it to the lives our people whom we have lost, that we sustain the mission and complete it successfully", said Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, Chief of the Air Staff. The IAF since June 17 has flown a total of 1,540 sorties, over 100 sorties a day in rain and fog, deploying various types of aircraft.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said around 1,800 people were still stranded in Uttarakhand but would be evacuated by Friday. It put the toll in the floods in the hill state at 560 while another 344 people were missing. "Approximately 1,829 are still stranded all in Uttarakhand and we are hopeful that the rescue operation would be over by Friday," said NDMA vice chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy in New Delhi.

According to NDMA, a total of 104,095 people have been evacuated from the State till Thursday. It said that 560 people had died, 463 were injured and 344 missing in the floods. Around 2,000 houses and 154 bridges were damaged. Reddy also said that several roads, closed due to the rescue operations, have now been opened.

The roads from Uttarkashi to Gangotrri, Joshimath to Badrinath and a few roads going towards Rudryaprayag are still closed as they are damaged and repair works are on. He said all over the hill State 1,520 roads were damaged. The mass cremations were also continuing. "Till yesterday (Wednesday) over 300 bodies were cremated, he said, adding that DNA samples of all the bodies had been taken. "The teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been asked to assist the local administration to recover the bodies from under the debris," Reddy said. He said the state government is giving Rs2,000 as ex-gratia to the people who have lost their luggage and money in the floods.

Reddy said a guard of honour would be accorded on Friday to the chopper crash victims in Dehradun. NDMA will request the government to provide financial assistance soon to the families of the victims. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde would also be in Dehradun on Friday.

People warned not to drink river water Guptkashi (PTI): Amid fears of epidemic outbreak, the mass cremation process in Kedarnath, worst-hit in the Uttarakhand flash floods, was expedited. The Health Department has warned people in adjoining areas not to consume river water as it may be highly polluted. With the air thick with foul smell of decaying bodies in the area adjoining the Kedarnath shrine, the department has expressed apprehensions about spread of various infectious diseases.

"We are now quickly cremating the bodies which have been recovered. But given the scale and nature of the tragedy, there is a likelihood that many bodies could still be lying in open spots, where rescue personnel have not been able to find or reach them," Ravikanth Raman, nodal officer of rescue operations, said.

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