Search and rescue teams managed to evacuate about 1500 stranded people from different parts of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand on Thursday before bad weather forced them to call off the efforts for the dayin places such as Badrinath.
Army personnel helping to evacuate people near the Pindari glacier in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand on June 26, 2013.
Search and rescue teams managed to evacuate about 1500 stranded people from different parts of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand today before bad weather forced them to call off the efforts for the day in places such as Badrinath.
Meanwhile, amid fears of the outbreak of an epidemic, the authorities have begun the mass cremation of bodies of the victims in Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of the flash floods and landslides in the hill state that followed two days of torrential rains on June 15-16.
Before cremating the bodies, Uttarakhand government officials are taking DNA samples from them to enable the identification of the victims.
With the floods having also taken a heavy toll of cattle and other animals, the authorities have warned people in the affected areas to avoid consuming river water as it could be polluted.
The authorities fear that the death toll, currently estimated at around 1000, could rise when the search and rescue teams begin clearing the silt and debris in the affected areas.
They also expect to find more bodies in remote areas where the rescue teams have not been able to reach so far.
Official sources here said an Indian Air Force (IAF) C 130J aircraft from the Hindon airbase near here undertook a weather recce of the flood-hit areas early this morning before the helicopters stationed in the area began their sorties.
Operating from Dharasu, Mi 17 V5 helicopters flew about 58 sorties airlifting about 593 persons from Harsil and Maneri to Dharasu uptil 1530 hours before bad weather interrupted the operations.
For the helicopters operating from Gauchar, weather affected the operations till 1000 hours, after which flying to Badrinath commenced and about 600 people were evacuated from there till 1500 hours, before bad weather was again encountered.
Operating from Simla where helicopter operations commenced at 0900 hours, 26 sorties were flown airlifting about 111 passengers, including seven injured persons.
In all, the IAF airlifted 1304 people in 84 sorties upto 4 pm today and landed about 4600 kg of relief material.
Uttarakhand toll likely to increase after clearance of 10 feet debris
Since June 17, the IAF in Operation Rahat has airlifted a total of 14,748 persons, flying a total of 1703 sorties and dropping or landing a total of 2,52,610 kg of relief material and equipment, the sources said.
The sources said all the pilgrims had been evacuated from Harsil, leaving only 100 to 150 locals to be moved out from there.
In Badrinath, all able-bodied and willing people were motivated by the Army to undertake the journey upto Joshimath by a combination of foot and vehicles. Of the journey, 12 km is by foot and the remaining 31 km is being undertaken by vehicles.
The sources said 900 people have set out on foot and 244 have already reached Joshimath, while the rest are on their way and are expected to reach there by tonight.
Evacuation is also on in Pithoragarh district of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. About 100 people were evacuated from isolated and cut-off places and were brought to Dharchula where they were given food, water and medical aid by the Army.
The sources said the Hemkund axis has been totally cleared of all pilgrims.
An Army veterinary team returned to Joshimath today after providing medical assistance to stranded animals and mules between Govindghat and Ghagria.
Animal rations and veterinary medicines were also rushed to Gauri Kund for use by local people for their stranded live stock.
The Army constructed another temporary foot bridge at Sonprayag for use by local population.
In Dehradun, the State Government said more than 102600 people had been evacuated from the affected areas since the tragedy struck.
State Government sources said that connectivity to 1636 villages, out of the 2375 affected, had been restored. Electricity had been restored in 2249 hamlets and habitations. Two power stations -- Galogi and Badrinath-II -- have been restored.
They said water supply had been restored in Badrinath , Pandukeshwar , Govinghat , Ghangria , Joshimath, Gopeshwar , Gauchar, Rudraprayag , Phata , Agaytsamuni , Srinagar , Uttarkashi and various other places.
More than 2000 personnel from the water supply department are working day and night to restore water supply in all the affected areas. More than 816 water supply schemes have been restored, they said.
The sources said arrangements had been made to ensure adequate supplies of food, cooking fuel, medicines, petrol, diesel and other essential commodities in all the affected areas.
President Pranab Mukherjee called up Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to enquire about the status of rescue and relief operations. He also expressed his condolence at the death of personnel involved in the search and rescue efforts.
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