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PIX: Bad weather, fresh landslides hamper U'khand rescue ops

Last updated on: June 24, 2013 15:57 IST

Bad weather, fresh landslides hamper U'khand rescue ops

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Bad weather returned to Uttarakhand on Monday with fresh spell of rains and landslips in the higher reaches of Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts grounding rescue operations by choppers in the state where 10,000 survivors are waiting to be evacuated.

Not a single chopper has so far been able to take off from Sahasradhara helipad to rescue stranded pilgrims at Badrinath and affected pockets adjacent to it

The same is the situation in Guptkashi and Gauchar from where no helicopter has so far been able to take off because of a thick veil of mist enveloping the area and intermittent rains.

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Image: A man is pulled across to safety on a rope during a rescue operation in Govindghat on Sunday
Photographs: Danish Siddique/Reuters

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Bad weather, fresh landslides hamper U'khand rescue ops

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In Delhi, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the death toll in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand may cross the reported 1,000 mark after the debris is cleared.

Retd Wing Commander Capt R S Brar, who has been entrusted with the task of overseeing air rescue operations in the affected areas, told PTI, "About 5000 people are yet to be evacuated from Badrinath and not even a single chopper has so far been able to take off from Sahasradhara helipad in Dehradun to rescue stranded pilgrims at the shrine and affected pockets adjacent to it."

"I am myself sitting in an aircraft since this morning waiting for the weather to clear up so that we could start our operations," he said.

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Image: ITBP personnel rescue stranded people across a flooded river in Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Reuters

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Bad weather, fresh landslides hamper U'khand rescue ops

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Reports from Chamoli and Pauri districts said it was raining in the higher reaches hampering chopper operations. The state capital Dehradun was also drenched with rain.

Fresh landslips on Badrinath highway has also choked the route.

With inclement weather affecting chopper operations, the state government's plans to launch a final combing operation in the worst-hit Kedarnath Valley in search of possible stranded pilgrims in pockets has also hit a roadblock.

However, official sources said an Indian Air Force chopper has been sent from Gauchar to Badrinath axis to assess the weather and find out whether it would be possible to resume rescue operations in the area where the majority of stranded pilgrims are located.

Talking about coordination efforts, NDMA member V K Duggal said in Delhi that "there was some operational issues and I have addressed the same with the officers concerned".

Superintendent of Police Rudraprayag Biranderjeet Singh said, "The roads are already fragile in some parts of the district. So, I have issued an advisory to tourists and other persons searching for their loved ones to leave for Rishikesh as soon as possible."

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Image: A man crosses a rope bridge over the Alaknanda river during rescue operations in Govindghat.
Photographs: Danish Siddique/Reuters

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Bad weather, fresh landslides hamper U'khand rescue ops

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Speaking about the rescue efforts when the flash floods hit the area, he said around 8000 lives were saved as all tourist police chowkis kept on announcing that there would be heavy rainfall and that they should try to avoid the yatra.

"So I think a lot of people were actually stopped from going and even I had told all my chowkis to be alert throughout the night, because the water level rises. So they kept on making announcements.

"I think my men did a huge job, that today we have saved around 7000-8000 people, they were kept alive by them, they were taken to safe places or advised to be taken to safe places that did a great work," he said.

Kedarnath Valley, the temple town which was the epicentre of the floods and landslides, was Sunday cleared of all stranded pilgrims in stepped up rescue operations.

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Image: A woman carrying a child on her back climbs up a hill with other survivors during rescue operations in Govindghat.
Photographs: Danish Siddique/Reuters

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Bad weather, fresh landslides hamper U'khand rescue ops

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Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya had Sunday said that at "At least 5,000 people must have been killed in the deluge that inflicted heavy damage on vast tracts of land especially in Kedarnath valley".

The official death toll as of Sunday was put at 680 while Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the death toll is likely to be around 1,000.

Meanwhile, 14 American tourists struck at Banjara camp in Himachal Pradesh's rain-ravaged Kinnaur district were evacuated and brought to Rampur as rescue operations to airlift 200 tourists and locals resumed Monday morning.

Uttar Pradesh also received fresh rains today leading to a rise in the water level of Ganga, Ghaghra and Sharda rivers.


Image: Stranded people wait for their turn to be rescued by a helicopter in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Danish Siddique/Reuters

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