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Kedarnath turns into ghost town

Last updated on: June 23, 2013 20:25 IST

The unprecedented rains turned Kedarnath into a ghost town with bodies strewn all over.

Rain water gushed into the town from the summit behind the famous shrine carrying rocks and boulders, destroying everything on its path.

The outer structure of the temple, however, seems intact.

The most ironic part of the tragedy is despite the mobile phone towers remaining intact, there is no electricity due to which people were unable to contact their families as their phones ran out of charge.

A senior Uttarakhand government official said 123 bodies have been recovered from Kedarnath where a team of experts went on Saturday to a take count of bodies strewn all over the place.

Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said Kedarnath has been totally evacuated of pilgrims now.

Having several brushes with death, survivors of the Himalayan tsunami which left a trail of destruction in the hill state were all praise for Army, which they said has given them a second life.

Sukhvinder Singh, a Ludhiana native who was stuck for eight days on the way to Hemkund Sahib, said, "I was en route to Hemkund Sahib when the disaster struck. The situation was deteriorating with the passage of time...We were bit relieved when Army stepped in. They gave us food and water and helped us in every possible way. Had they not been here, we wouldn't have survived."

Recalling his horrific experiences during the past few days, Aman Bisht, who arranges treks to Hemkund Sahib every year, said, "The road links were shattered and down there we had no bridges left. And even if there was a road somewhere, it was broken. The Army has been very supportive."

Another survivor from Punjab, who was rescued from Joshi Math, said he was able to contact his family only with the help of army personnel.

One Sharan, who along with his family was rescued from Badrinath and brought to Chamouli relief camp on Friday, said, "The situation is pathetic. Had the army not been there, we would not have any chance of coming back ever."

Carrying photographs, people in Dehradun are running from one hospital to other in desperation to get some news about their relatives and friends as their patience ran thin due to passage of almost a week since the tragedy struck.

Family members and friends of those, who are stranded or missing in the hill state, have come to the capital city and are desperately searching hospitals and camps to get some news about their loved ones.

They are also condemning "total absence" of sensitivity on part of the administration.

"I have come from Delhi in search of my parents and one of our relatives. I last spoke to them on June 15, since then I have no news about them," said a man whose family had come for Kedarnath pilgrimage.

Another man alleged apathy on part of the government officials and said that "priority is being given to foreigners while Indians are left behind to die".

"My children have been stranded there for the last eight days without food and water. They are borrowing phones to call us, but we are helpless. Authorities are doing nothing, foreigners are being given priority in rescue and relief work while Indians are being left behind to die of hunger," he said.

"No Uttarakhand officials or any public representatives have reached here. No credible information has been given to us by anyone or from anywhere," he added.

Another youth whose relatives are stranded in Gourikund said that his relatives told him that around 2,500 people are stuck there with them.

"I can't understand why despite unprecedented devastation, the tragedy has not been declared a national calamity so far," he said. 

Image: The Kedarnath Temple is pictured amid damaged surroundings by flood waters at Rudraprayag
Photograph: Reuters

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