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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

Last updated on: June 21, 2013 13:58 IST

Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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Massive rescue operations were launched on Friday in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand with 40 helicopters pressed into service to evacuate over 9000 people from Kedarnath and Badrinath areas as the state government said the toll in the rain fury could be "shockingly high".

The focus of the rescue operation on Friday would be the worst-hit Kedarnath area where 250 people are stranded, officials said. The operation would then shift to Badrinath where 9000 people are stuck, they said.

In Gaurikund and Rambara 5,000 people are believed to be trapped in the narrow valley. The National Disaster Response Force team reached Rambada on Friday morning.


The helplines for Uttarakhand are: Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Chamoli: 919808151240, 919837134399; Pauri, Haridwar and Nainital: 91999779124, 919451901023; Almora, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh: 919456755206, 919634535758; Uttarakhand Disaster Management Secretary 9837542221

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Image: A pilgrim is helped by a villager as she tries to cross on a pathway damaged by landslide in Rudraprayag in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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A total of 33,192 people stranded in floods-ravaged Uttarakhand have till now been rescued in the ongoing multi-agency rescue and relief operation even as thousands are still trapped or missing in the hills.

According to the home ministry statement, a total of 50,422 pilgrims were still stranded at various places. Also, over 13,000 people are said to be missing.


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Image: Vehicles are pictured in the flooded waters of a stream after heavy rains
Photographs: Reuters
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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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As the rescue efforts picked up steam, Uttarkahnad Principal Secretary Rakesh Sharma said casualty figures can be "shockingly high".

Terming it as the "worst tragedy of the millennium", state Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat said, "It will take us at least five years to recover from the extensive damages caused to the entire infrastructure network in the Kedarnath area which is the worst affected".

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Image: Damaged houses are seen at a village in Rudraprayag
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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Rawat, who had visited the Kedarnath area, said that he spent five hours there and was shocked to see the extent of the damage caused to the buildings and area adjoining the shrine.

"The centre of faith has turned into a burial ground. Bodies are scattered in the area. Only the sanctum sanctorum is intact," he said.


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Image: An elderly lady being escorted by Indian Army soldiers from a helicopter
Photographs: Army Photo

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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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Thousands of people were still said to be stranded in various parts of the state that was hit by cloudburst and floods in the upper reaches that left several hundreds of homes, rest houses and buildings in ruins and thousands of people missing.

The official death toll still stood at 150 but Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the casualties could run into several hundreds, which will be known only when areas become accessible and water recedes.

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Image: Army personnel evacuate people across a rivulet by laying a temporary bridge made of wooden logs on rout in Uttarakhand
Photographs: Indian Army

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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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The Indian Air Force has deployed 20 Mi-17s and 16 Advanced Light

Helicopters in the state. The army has also deployed over 8,000 of its troops along with over 3,000 personnel of the Border Roads Organisation.

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Image: Soldiers rescue stranded people after heavy rains in Uttarakhand
Photographs: Reuters

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Uttarakhand: Over 33,000 rescued, 50,000 trapped, 13,000 missing

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The upper reaches of the state lay mute witness to the death and devastation caused by nature's fury due to Saturday's cloudburst and landslides and a complete estimate of which was still not available.

Defence Minister A K Antony is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the armed forces to extend maximum possible support in the operations.

About 10,000 people are also being provided food and medical assistance. Over 50 relief camps have been set up for those evacuated till now.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has issued an appeal to the nation for generous donations to support the distressed fellow countrymen affected by cloud burst and floods in Uttarakhand. Dr Singh, in his appeal, urged the public to donate generously to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and actively participate in the national efforts to support the affected people.


Image: A man carries a flood affected victim after they were rescued by the Indian army in Uttarakhand
Photographs: Reuters

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