Over 5000 pilgrims are stranded in the Badrinath shrine area which has been cut off from the rest of the country following landslides, even as Army helicopters have begun rescue operations.
So far Army helicopters have rescued 45 persons, and despite the inclement weather prevailing in the area were making regular sorties to rescue the remaining pilgrims, Uttaranchal chief secretary R S Tolia told reporters in Dehra Dun.
At least 17 people were killed and 28 injured when three vehicles were swept into Alakananda river by landslides caused by cloudburst. The slides also damaged parts of the Vishnuprayag hydel project which was under construction.
A major portion of the workshop at the project site has been washed away, Tolia said.
He said Joshimath, from where relief and rescue operations are being conducted, has been made the temporary headquarters of Chamoli district.
The district magistrate and Chamoli's superintendent of police are camping at Joshimath till further orders, Tolia said.
The district administration has been allocated Rs 50 lakh towards disaster management following the landslide.