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North India struggles to stay AFLOAT

Last updated on: June 18, 2013 23:43 IST

North India struggles to stay AFLOAT

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Monsoon rains wreaked fresh havoc in northern India leading to flash floods, cloudbursts and landslips as the death toll climbed to 102 in Uttarakhand alone and hundreds of pilgrims bound for Himalayan shrines remained stranded.

Landslides and flash floods left scores of tourists and pilgrims stranded in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh while thousands have been displaced in Uttar Pradesh where several rivers are in spate.

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Photographs: Courtesy: ANI

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At least 102 people were killed in the flash floods triggered by incessant rains in Uttarakhand, while the toll in the calamity is likely to rise manifold as 500 people are still reported to be missing.

Ukhimath SDM Rakesh Tewari told reporters after his return from Himalayan shrine of Kedarnarth that 50 bodies are lying in areas adjacent to the shine.

"We are right now concentrating on rescuing those who are alive," the officer said. Some of the pilgrims who returned from the shrine after being stranded there for two days said that Kedarnathpuri has been totally damaged by the flood.

Barring the Kedarnath shrine and some of the structures adjoining it, most of the residential wings of the temple are damaged.

Bodies of pilgrims are lying in debris of damaged houses, the pilgrims said. Earlier, 52 persons had died across the state in cloudbursts and landslides.

"More persons are feared dead at Tejam in Pithoragarh district", Chief Secretary Subahash Kumar told reporters here this evening.

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Image: A Hindu devotee tries to take a holy dip in the flooded waters of river Ganges in the northern Indian town of Haridwar
Photographs: Reuters

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About 500 pilgrims stranded at Kedarnath were ferried to safety at Guptkashi today as rescue operations picked up momentum two days after incessant rains wreaked havoc in the hill state, he said. However, he expressed inability to give a precise figure of casualties in Pithoragarh saying choppers cannot be landed at many places due to heavy flooding.

He said the possibility of casualties "rising manifold" cannot be ruled out as many places with crowded settlements in the worst hit Rudraprayag district are heavily inundated, so much that they cannot even be seen from the choppers that were flown over them to take stock of the situation.

Massive casualties are feared at the thickly populated Rambara in the district where nothing is visible from above, Garhwal Commissioner Subardhan who was also present at the joint press conference said.

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Image: Damage caused by heavy rains in Kedarnath
Photographs: Courtesy: ANI/Twitter

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Union Home Secretary R K Singh said food, medicines and blankets were air-dropped in remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

"We have provided seven helicopters to Uttarakhand. The state government has also hired four private helicopters. We are providing helicopters to Himachal Pradesh. Hopefully, all stranded people will be evacuated today," Singh said here.

Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was stranded in Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours due to landslides, was evacuated this morning by a chopper hired by his Congress party. Singh was airlifted after rains abated and the weather cleared.

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Rescue operations continued in full swing in the rain ravaged tribal Kinnaur district with about 150 persons rescued from Sangla and Rekong Peo and dropped off at Rampur till Tuesday evening by one state and two IAF choppers which made about 15 sorties.

A high alert has, meanwhile, been issued in Uttar Pradesh following heavy rainfall across the state and the release of water by several barrages in the past 24 hours.

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Four persons were killed in rain-related incidents in the state. While three teenagers were killed in Maharajganj after being struck by lightning, a woman was killed and six others injured when a house collapsed in heavy rains in Muzaffarnagar.

Sources said that the Sharda was flowing above the red mark at Palia Kalan with directives having been issued to evacuate 44 villages in the Mahsi area in Bahraich.

MeT sources, however, said that there could be a decrease in rainfall soon although they also warned of heavy showers in isolated areas of eastern UP in the coming 24 hrs.

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According to Central Water Commission sources, the levels of Sharda, Rapti, Ghaghra, Burhi Rapti, Rohin and Kuano rivers were constantly on the rise.

A report from Bahraich said that with the release of 4 lakh cusecs from Nepal through Banbasa barrage, the threat of floods was imminent in the district.

The release of water in Narora means that about 100 villages on the banks of the Ganga and the Ram Ganga in Farrukhabad district faced a threat of flood.

Principal secretary irrigation, Deepak Singhal said that in the wake of the current situation, all divisional, district magistrates and other officers have been directed to remain vigilant and take necessary steps to deal with the emergency.

He said that of the 75 districts in the state, 23 were very sensitive and 11 sensitive from the flood point of view.

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Singhal added that 45 flood control rooms have been set up while 110 wireless centres, too, are operational with help from police.

Haryana witnessed a decrease in rainfall following heavy showers on Monday, particularly in the Yamunanagar and Karnal districts.

There had been an alarming increase in the level of the Yamuna, with a record 8.06 lakh cusecs flowing through Hathni Kund barrage yesterday prompting authorities to sound a high alert in districts of Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat and Faridabad.

But the water flowing through the barrage has continued to decrease and, at 10 am on Tuesday, was around 1.73 lakh cusecs.

In Punjab, Amritsar (9.5 mm), Patiala (trace rains) and Nakodar (5 mm) were among the few places to receive light rains while the level of the Bhakra dam today touched 1,595.04 feet. The reservoir's upper limit is 1,680 feet.

"There is no reason for any alarm as of now. The present level is normal for the rainy season considering that monsoon has arrived early this season," a Bhakra Beas Management Board official said.


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Source: ANI