Floods: Shinde arrives in Uttarakhand

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 26, 2013 18:02 hrs

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Saturday arrived in Uttarakhand to take stock of the rescue and relief operations in the flood-hit north India state.

Shinde admitted that lack of coordination between the government agencies in the state affected rescue operations.

"There's lack of coordination among the various state agencies," Shinde told media.

He earlier in the day met state Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the floods touched 550 in Uttarakhand till Saturday.

"550 deaths had occurred till yesterday;" Shinde said.

The Home Minister said rescue operations are currently going on a war footing to evacuate those stranded in different parts of the state.

"We are trying our best to evacuate fast," Shinde said.

He said around 30,000 people have been rescued in the state so far.

Nearly 40,000 pilgrims are still stranded in the Himalayan state that has been ravaged by flash floods and landslides.

According to reports, the Army on Saturday evacuated around 1000 people who were in the mountains between Gaurikund and Rambara on the Kedarnath axis.

Brigadier Uma Maheshwar, from the Central Command, told NDTV, "It´s very steep and near vertical mountain slopes. It is also a very narrow valley. Army troops were heli landed and in the last 24 hours intensive search operations were carried out.

"People are stranded at various places - wherever they could take shelter, wherever they felt it was safe is. It will take time for them to come down at one point."

In one of the largest rescue and relief operations conducted by the Army, 55 helicopters are being used to save the people.

Union Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday gave directions to Railway Board to arrange special trains to evacuate stranded persons from the calamity hit Uttarakhand areas, the Ministry of Railways said in a statement.

Special trains have started running from Haridwar.

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