Uttarakhand reels under flood fury

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 19, 2013 07:30 hrs

New Delhi: Even as the rescue operations continued in full swing in the North India states, including Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, where the death toll from monsoon fury touched 130, devastation engulfs most of the areas hit by torrential rains.
Reports quoted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna saying that there is not enough manpower to cope with the calamity of such proportion.

Flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides have claimed more than a hundred lives in Uttarakhand and almost wiped out a habitation around the Kedarnath shrine, while dozens more are reported missing. 

Thousands of people still remain stranded in various parts of Uttarakhand, with the death toll in the state reaching 102.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi will visit Uttarakhand on Wednesday afternoon, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said.

Shinde said efforts are being made to evacuate the stranded people through helicopters and ropes. 

"We have set up several control rooms, even in the Home Ministry office to provide assistance to the people," informed Shinde.

"We are dropping food packages and medical aid to the stranded people. I am keeping constant touch with the Himachal Pradesh CM and Uttarakhand CM. They have informed me that the weather is improving today," he said. 

Reports said the Uttarakhand situation was discussed at the Congress Core Group meeting and the PM has directed that food and other relief be reached to the affected from the food ministry.

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.

A huge number of pilgrims from other states who were headed to visit the four shrines or "Char Dham" that include Badrinath and Kedarnath remain stuck.

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

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

The army has deployed six more helicoptors for the rescue operations on Wednesday.

The Kedarnath area, is infact, has been wiped away by the floods.

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

Apart from the loss of lives, several houses are submerged in sands and mud.

Locals are blaming the authorities for providing no weather alert this year, due to which they couldn't prepare themselves to combat the devastation.

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. An alert has been issued in the state.

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 are air-dropped in remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh since 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.

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

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, 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.

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