Uttarakhand: Rescue rages on, toll at 207

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 21, 2013 15:43 hrs

Rescue operations continued in full swing on Friday with special focus on Kedarnath-Badrinath area, even as the death toll from the floods touched 207 in the north Indian states on Friday.

Approximately 16,000 stranded people have been rescued so far by road and helicopters on Friday.

The Indian Army on Friday opened the all important road link from Sonprayag to Gauri Kund which is the base camp for trekking to Kedarnath.

Approximately 1,000 people stranded at Gauri Kund are now being evacuated along the newly opened road to Sonprayag and Tehri, officials said.

Army Para troopers with specialized mountaineering equipment reached out to people stuck in various gorges, ravines and nallas (drains) between Gauri Kund and Ram Bara this morning.

Army Aviation pilots have landed a special force at Jungle Chatti near Ram Bara and rescued 16 people from the river bed.

In the Joshimath sector, the Army constructed a temporary bridge across Alaknanda River near Govind Ghat to facilitate stranded Hemkund Sahib pilgrims to cross over.

Similarly, two land slides between Govind Ghat and Gagariya have been cleared paving the way for pilgrims to move by foot. The Army has evacuated 500 people so far.

The Army teams evacuated 91 people by helicopters from Badrinath and 322 people were air lifted from Gagaria.

The Army Aviation helicopters so far flew 104 sorties with 11 aircraft evacuating 523 people and delivering 13,000 Kgs of food, fuel and medicines.

Army teams last night reached Gangotri for the first time since the floods. Approximately 500 people in Gangotri are now in the process of being evacuated to Harsil.

The camp at Harsil provided shelter, food and medical aid to 1500 people. The Army today air lifted 3.6 tons of food to Harsil.

Meanwhile, Rishikesh - Gangotri road has been opened up to Uttarkashi. Road between Uttarkashi to Harsil is still not open to traffic due to land slides at number of places.

In Pithoragarh district, eight stranded civilians were evacuated by Army helicopter from Milam on Friday.

A medical camp was established at Tijam providing medical aid to people affected by floods. At least 65 patients were treated by Army Medical team at Gothi in Pithoragarh district.

As many as 160 civilians were evacuated from inundated areas and were moved to upper reaches and were given first aid, food and shelter.

One Army team has been heli landed 12 Kms inside Pindari glacier in Bageshwar district of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand to link up and evacuate 50 people stranded on the glacier.

As many as 1354 people have so far been evacuated from Pilibhit alone.

Meanwhile, Union Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge 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.

On Thursday, three specials run to Lucknow, Delhi and Ambala respectively. More specials are being planned as per the requirements, the statement said.

In coordination with Government of Uttarakhand, Indian Railways has decided to carry stranded passengers free of cost to their respective destinations.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will visit Uttarakhand on Saturday.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Friday said 33,192 pilgrims and tourists have been rescued in the state so far.

"Ministry of Home Affairs has ensured release of Rs. 145 crores from state disaster relief fund. The Home Minister will visit Uttarakhand tomorrow," Tewari said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Friday.

He said: "The IAF has committed 13 more aircraft. The total number of aircraft pressed into service in Uttarakhand is now 43."

Flash floods and landslides have destroyed.nearly 1,100 small and big roads in the state which is witnessing one of the worst natural disasters in recent years.

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