130 lives lost as rains pound North India

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 19, 2013 05:23 hrs

Dehradun/New Delhi: Torrential rains continued to pummel North Indian states, including Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, taking the death toll to at least 130 on Tuesday while thousands remained stranded.
Flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides have claimed more than a hundred lives in Uttarakhand, while dozens more are reported missing. 

The state's Rudraprayag district was the worst hit where at least 20 people have been killed and 73 buildings, including 40 hotels, along the banks of the Alaknanda river have been swept away.

Latest estimates said as many as 73,000 people remain stuck in the state, including a huge number of pilgrims from other states who were headed to the four shrines or "Char Dham" that include Badrinath and Kedarnath.

The famous Kedarnath shrine was virtually submerged in mud and slush while a portion of the temple compound has been washed away.

Authorities however said there was no damage to the structure itself even though about 500 people, including 45 policemen, are reported to be missing around the Kedarnath temple area.

In Himachal Pradesh, rains and snow wreaked havoc, claiming over a dozen lives, said police.

Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was stranded in Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours due to landslides, was airlifted on Tuesday morning.

Five army officials have also lost lives while conducting rescue operations. 

In Uttar Pradesh, at least four people have been reportedly killed in rain-related incidents.

In Delhi, around 1,500 people who who live on banks of the Yamuna in eastern fringes of the city have been evacuated as the river flowed above the danger mark.

Government officials said 20 camps have been set up in the state to provide shelter and medical assistance.

In Uttarakhand, while two teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) were already available, twelve additional teams were dispatched.

More than 5,000 personnel of the Army are presently deployed in various areas of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, rendering aid to distraught people reeling under nature's fury.

The Uttarakhand Government also made a request for helicopters to rescue the stranded people which was met by the Ministry of Defence.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh said food, medicines and blankets were air-dropped in remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

Due to bad weather the helicopters started operating only from Tuesday morning. Fifty pilgrims have been rescued from Kedarnath and brought to Gupt Kashi. 

An Army column on Hemkund Sahib route has evacuated more than 4,000 pilgrims across the broken bridge at Govindghat in Uttarakhand and constructed a foot track for their safe passage. 

Approximately 1,800 pilgrims have further been moved from Govindghat to Joshimath. In addition medical facilities, refreshments and lodging facilities have been extended to over 1,300 persons at Joshimath. 

Over 200 sets of blankets, sleeping bags, combat jackets and balaclavas have been provided to the evacuated pilgrims.

An Army column at Harsil in Uttarakhand constructed a log bridge near Harsil and evacuated 600 pilgrims. In addition, the column opened a medical relief camp at Harsil for stranded civilians and is providing food, water and shelter. Further, a foot track has been constructed and help provided for evacuation of 100 pilgrims stranded on Harsil-Gangotri axis.

In Bijnor, UP, one Army column has been deployed at Rawali village, near Bijnor, to evacuate 150 stranded civilians. Efforts to reach the stranded persons are in progress.

Approximately 1,000 tourists were reported stranded in Rekong-Peo and 500 in Sangla Valley. Helicopters have been dispatched to Sangla Valley this morning for rescuing the stranded. 

The BRO has been asked to assist the State PWD in restoring the communication to both Rekong Peo and Sangla Valley. One team of NDRF has reached Sangla and the other team is on way to Po to assist the district administration in relief work. 

Several parts of Haryana were flooded after water level of Yamuna crossed the danger-level mark.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has had a telephonic conversation with Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and assured all possible support. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Tuesday evening, inquiring about the flood situation in the state. 

He has assured the Chief Minister of all assistance in rescue and relief operations in the flood hit state. 

Singh shared the anguish and distress of the affected people of Uttarakhand who see their homes facing the ravages of floods. He said that assistance was already being provided by the army and air force to rescue stranded people and to provide relief. 

The PM has also directed all agencies of the Union Government to assist in rescue and relief operations in the flood affected areas of the state.

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