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22 pilgrims still stranded in Badrinath

July 09, 2004 18:25 IST

Twenty-two pilgrims, mostly women and old men, are still stranded in the Badrinath area, which was cut off from the rest of the country due to landslides triggered by a cloudburst, a top official said on Friday, a day after the Uttaranchal government claimed that all the pilgrims have been evacuated.

Executive Director of the Disaster Management Mitigation Centre R K Pandey attributed the confusion over the exact number of stranded pilgrims to lack of proper communication links and the difficulty in differentiating between the locals and pilgrims.

"We are making arrangements to evacuate 22 pilgrims, who are still stranded at Badrinath, with the help of helicopters," he said in state capital Dehra Dun.

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However, the helicopters could not take off on Friday due to bad weather in the Badrinath area, which was cut off from the rest of the country since Monday night following a cloudburst that triggered massive landslides.

Local shopkeepers and villagers are also reportedly leaving the area despite repeated appeals by the state government not to panic. Over 338 people, including 50 pilgrims and 278 locals, left the Badrinath area trekking through landslides-hit routes and passing through an underground tunnel, sources said in Dehra Dun.

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