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PHOTOS: Massive devastation at Uttarakhand

Last updated on: June 19, 2013 21:08 IST

PHOTOS: Massive devastation at Uttarakhand

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The terrible magnitude of nature's fury in Uttarakhand unfolded on Wednesday as the death toll rose to 150 with fears that it may go up substantially as large parts remained under water while hundreds of houses and buildings lay in ruins.

After an aerial survey of the affected areas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 1,000 crore aid to the state where large-scale devastation has occurred.

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Image: The floods in Uttarakhand
Photographs: Courtesy: Indian Army

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Skies cleared on Wedneday enabling stepping up of rescue and relief operations but the efforts were hampered by the vast destruction of the roads caused by landslips and flash floods that damaged hundreds of houses, buildings, hotels and government guesthouses.

Several thousand pilgrims from across the country are still stranded in the state as reports came that the Kedarnath temple, one of the four holy dhams, was intact but the temple complex and the Rambada area around it have suffered total destruction.

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Image: Submerged bridge over river Ganga in Rudraprayag cuts off Kedarnath shrine
Photographs: Nautiyalk/twitter

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"Very heavy casualties are feared and I cannot give the exact number without a proper survey," said Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna who described the flood ravage as unprecedented caused by a "Himalayan tsunami".

Dr Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi made an aerial survey of the affected areas and described what they saw as "most distressing". He announced Rs 1,000 crore aid for the state for disaster relief of which Rs 145 crore is being released immediately.

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Image: A video grab of the devastation at Kedarnath
Photographs: GujjuSir/twitter

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"I have also directed all central agencies to render all possible assistance in their domain to the state," he told reporters on his return.

The PM said it is feared that the loss of lives could eventually be much higher. "So far, more than 10,000 people have been rescued and are being provided food, clothing and shelter. Many persons still remain stranded. The maximum damage has been in Kedarnath and its vicinity," he said.

Bahuguna, who described the scale of the devastation as unimaginable, said it would take one year for normal yatra to Kedarnath to be restored.

The first priority is to rescue the stranded people especially those on pilgrimage from various parts of the country, distribution of medicines and rehabilitation and compensation for the affected, he said.

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Image: Another view of the widespread damage caused by the torrential rainfall in Kedarnath
Photographs: ANI_News/twitter

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Uttarakhand Principal Secretary (home) Om Prakash said the death toll in the state has gone up to 150 but was not in a position to give the exact estimate since several villages in Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts in the upper reaches were still under water.

The state and central governments have deployed all possible resources to deal with the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

About 5,500 jawans and officers of the army, 3,000 men of the Border Roads Organisation and 600 Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel are engaged in relief and rescue efforts. Thirteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been put into work. The air force has deployed 18 helicopters and C130 aircraft. Private helicopters are also being engaged by the state government.

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Image: Rescue operations by the Army in Joshimath, Uttarakhand
Photographs: adgpi/twitter

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Prakash told reporters that at least 150 people have been killed in flashfloods, cloudbursts and landslides. The toll may rise as the process of recovery of bodies has not yet started at many places which are marooned," he said.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh also toured the affected areas in the three districts and held a meeting with senior government officials at the Jollygrant airport to brief them about how to deal with the situation.

The CM said that the priority as of now was to evacuate the stranded people at different places and distribute food packets and medicines among them.

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Image: Flood relief operations by the Army at village Jathlana and Lalchappar
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Once the stranded people are evacuated to safety, the process of recovering bodies trapped in the debris of collapsed houses, mud and slush will begin," he told reporters.

Eight more bodies have been recovered from the Kedarnath Wildlife Sancturay and 2,700 stranded pilgrims have been evacuated to safe locations by ITBP and army jawans in Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts.

Evacuation of pilgrims from Badrinath has begun where 12,000 persons are still stranded, he said.

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Image: Indian Air Force evacuating flood victims from Changla
Photographs: adgpi/twitter

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With scores of bodies trapped in debris at different places across the state beginning to decay, the threat of an outbreak of epidemic also looms large on the hill state, officials opined. However, there is no reason to panic as teams of doctors from the National Disaster Management Authority have already been sent to the affected areas, they said.

Rudraprayag Sub Divisional Magistrate L N Mishra who is overseeing rescue operations at Agastya Muni a place with a population of about 2 lakh in the district, said there will be food crisis if people stranded there are not evacuated within two days.

Hundreds of buildings including hotels and government guesthouses along the banks of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi have been swept away by the floods with 40 hotels washed away in Rudraprayag district alone.

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Photographs: adgpi/twitter

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