Uttarakhand Cloudburst in Tehri 3 dead 9 000 still stranded
Bad weather conditions, which hampered the rescue operations in the flood-hit Uttarakhand yesterday, are expected to stay the same on Tuesday and affect the evacuation of nearly 9,000 people still stranded in the upper reaches of the hill state.
Fresh reports claimed that nearly three people were killed due to cloudburst in Tehri’s Deyprayag area. The incident occurred at around 6.30 am in which several houses were damaged and many others were injured.
The Army, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and various other agencies, which suspended the rescue operation yesterday due to inclement weather, will try to reach out to those who still need help.
According to reports, Indian Navy’s elite Marine Commandos will be deployed in Rudraprayag to help in search and rescue operations.
Twelve naval divers are heading to Rishikesh to look for bodies. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been deployed to retrieve bodies from inaccessible areas.
Most of the tourists stranded in the Sangla valley, Pooh and Nako area of the Kinnaur district were rescued by the security forces and taken to safer places. However, there are still over 9,000 people stranded across the state.
Around 430 people were airlifted from the Harsil-Gangotri axis area. IAF sorties were suspended but foot-evacuations of those stranded continued.
With the rains hitting much of the air operations, soldiers took to rescuing the stranded men, women and children by foot in a coordinated operation involving the state and central authorities.
Fresh landslides occurred on the key road linking Rishikesh and Rudraprayag, hitting rescue efforts. But the route ahead to Joshimath was open.
Officials said some 1,400 people awaited evacuation at Harsil, 50 at Dharali and 60 at Jhala in Uttarkashi and another 5,000 at Badrinath, near the worst-hit area.
A massive cloudburst near the revered Kedarnath shrine and the humongous floods that followed ravaged the hills of Uttarakhand over 10 days ago, causing a terrible calamity.
With vast stretches of mountain roads cut off, thousands of locals as well as pilgrims got stranded in various hills.
Monday’s inclement weather forced the Army to continue rescue operations on the route from Badrinath to Joshimath and from Harsil to Uttarkashi.
In Badrinath, 281 people were moved by land late Sunday after the construction of a Burma bridge across the swollen Alaknanda. The army set up a heli bridge at Lam Bagar in addition to a foot bridge.
Two army and three civil helicopters ferried people from Badrinath. Eight hundred were moved towards Joshimath, both by air and on foot.
In Uttarkashi, MI-17 helicopters made 16 sorties to take out 402 people from Harsil. Another 683 people reached Uttarkashi by foot.
Knowing that food is in short supply, the Army has stocked food, water and medicines at Sukhi and Gagnani. Food was distributed at Govindghat and Joshimath.
In the Kedarnath area, special troops from the mountaineering unit continued to look for survivors between Jungle Chatti and Rama Bara areas.
More rains have been forecast in the coming days. On Monday, rains battered many areas including Dehradun, Chamoli and Paudi where relief operations have been halted.
A cloudburst in Malan village in Paudi has devastated many houses though no casualties have been reported.
The government says 557 bodies have been found. Some officials and rescuers have said the fatalities may run into hundreds, if not thousands.
The rains have cut off communication to Tilwada and Gaurikund, where more than 500 people are stuck. Efforts to evacuate them were aborted due to heavy rains.
Rains are also lashing Guptkashi, Harsil and Badrinath – places where thousands are still stranded. Water levels have again risen in the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers.
In New Delhi, aid agency ‘Save the Children’ said thousands of children and women stuck in Uttarakhand needed immediate medical attention and food.
Help is pouring into Uttarakhand from all over the country.
In New Delhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi flagged off trucks carrying food, medicines, clothes and blankets.
In Himachal Pradesh’ Dharamsala, hundreds of Tibetan exiles offered prayers for those who died in that state and Uttarakhand.