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Uttarakhand: Families turning restless, helplines flooded

June 22, 2013 18:52 IST

Uttarakhand: Families turning restless, helplines flooded

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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 in Uttarakhand.

Family members and friends of those, who are stranded or missing in the hill state, have come to Dehradun 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.

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"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. 2,500 people are stranded in Gourikund with my relatives and it's impossible to evacuate them at the current rate as one chopper is bringing just 10-15 people at a time. Government should press in more helicopters immediately," he said.

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 had no chance of coming back ever. I reached there on 15th and that's the time the rain started pouring in."

"Till 18, by the time army stepped in, we had no information. We were told that roads will be cleared in two days but the army came and told us that roads cannot be cleared for 30 days at least. That came as a shocker to me," he said. 

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Meanwhile, control rooms of various state governments set up in New Delhi are abuzz with frantic phone calls as relatives of stranded tourists in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand are calling anxiously to find out their whereabouts.

While operations are underway on a war footing to rescue pilgrims stranded in various places, authorities at the control rooms are trying to console anxious victims and family members calling to know the whereabouts of their dear ones.

"We are receiving about 1,000 calls daily, mostly from family members back home who are trying to locate their dear ones," said an official at the control room set-up by the West Bengal government.

An official of the control room operated by the Chhattisgarh government in Delhi said, "We are sorting out the data of the rescued persons that is provided to us by the Uttarakhand government and the family members are being informed."

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Budhaditya Mukherjee, one of the rescued pilgrims from West Bengal, said the ordeal began last Wednesday when he was stuck at the Hanuman Choti on his way to Yamunotri, when incessant rains forced him and a group of pilgrims with him to turn back.

"We saw the hotel near ours crash into the Yamuna as the flood washed away the soil below it," he said.

"There was knee deep slush on the road, but our driver managed to turn around and after travelling till Kharati, we saw police officials trying to make a road using JCBs, as the highway washed off," he added.

He said that the locals and the rescue officials helped us in reaching one of the camps operated by the state government who rescued him and brought him to Delhi, while seniors in his group were provided facilities to travel back to Kolkata.

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The rescued pilgrims said that the major problem was shortage of food, though various camps were trying their best to provide it.

"The food in the hotels located in the safer areas are being sold at double the price, while the camps are trying their best to provide food to stranded pilgrims," said Mukherjee, who stayed at a makeshift camp before being shifted to Delhi.

According to officials of the West Bengal control room, a family from Kolkata was rescued along with 200 others on Saturday afternoon from a gorge near Kedarnath by the Army.


"There are calls from people of the neighbouring states also, who might not be getting through the helplines set-up by their states, we are trying to help them also," said the official from the West Bengal control room.

"The biggest problem we are facing is that the pilgrims are moving out on their own, so it is difficult to pin-point their location and inform the rescuers," said a control room personnel of the Chhattisgarh government. 

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