The death toll in Uttarakhand, where torrential rains over the weekend have left a trail of widespread devastation, has touched 550 and is likely to rise dramatically as search and rescue teams make their way to areas which have remained inaccessible so far.
ITBP conducts rescue operation at Govindghat
The death toll in Uttarakhand, where torrential rains over the weekend have left a trail of widespread devastation, has touched 556 and is likely to rise dramatically as search and rescue teams make their way to areas which have remained inaccessible so far.
Official sources said many of the victims were washed away in the swirling waters of the swollen rivers in the state or buried under silt and it would be some time before relief agencies are able to make an accurate assessment of the loss of lives and property.
The rescue and relief efforts are continuing on a war-footing round the clock, with thousands of stranded travellers being evacuated to safety while thousands more of pilgrims and tourists await help on the routes to pilgrimage destinations such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
The disaster affected nine of the 13 districts in the state: Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Almora, Dehradun, Tehri, Pithoragarh, Hardwar and Nainital.
According to official figures put out by the Uttarakhand government this morning, as many as 392 people have suffered injuries in the floods and landslides, while 334 people are officially reported as missing.
Unconfirmed reports, however, said the numbers of dead and missing were much higher.
Nearly 1400 head of cattle have perished in the tragedy. As many as 672 houses and buildings have been completely destroyed, while another 971 were damaged. At least 21 bridges were damaged in the floods.
Nearly 63,000 pilgrims and tourists were still stranded at various places in the state, especially on the routes to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Nearly 56,000 people have so far been shifted to safer places by the rescue teams, who have mounted one of the largest ever such operation in the country, the sources added.
Apart from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Armed Forces, those involved in the rescue and relief efforts include paramilitary organizations and various state government agencies.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is expected to visit the flood-hit areas of the state tomorrow.
In Delhi, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth is coordinating the rescue and relief measures.
He held a meeting here yesterday with senior officers of the Government of India, Defence services, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Border Road Organization (BRO) and the NDRF alongwith the officers of the State Government to review and coordinate the rescue and relief measures.
An official press release said coordinated efforts were being made with the State Government, the Air Force, NDRF and the BRO to ensure speedy evacuation, both by air and land of the stranded pilgrims. The Government of India is supplementing the efforts of the State Government for requirement of food, medicines and fuel, wherever required.
As many as 43 helicopters of the Air Force and Army are involved in the airlifting of stranded travellers in difficult terrain and weather conditions.
The Government has directed the public sector telecom services provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to immediately repair the telephone towers to restore communication in the affected areas in the next two or three days.
About 8,000 tonnes of foodgrains are available with the State Government. Arrangements to ensure fuel availability have also been made.
The Armed Forces have deployed 8100 troops, including medical tams, engineer task forces and signal detachments, in the rescue and relief efforts.
Apart from helicopters, the Armed Forces have pressed into service earth-moving equipment and boats.
A ropeway at Govindghat, a foot bridge at Dharali village and improvised crossing are being constructed at damaged bridge location at Govindghat.
Ten specialised mountaineering teams have been deployed for Kedarnath-Soumang area.
Appropriate orders for use of Army helipads by civil helicopters have been issued on June 19. A helipad has been constructed at Lambaghat civil school at Govindghat.
The Army has established relief camps at Harsil, Joshimath, Rudraprayag and Gauchar Advanced Landing Ground (ALG). Medical camps have been established at Harsil, Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Govindghat, Gothi, Dharchula and Gwaldam.
The Air Force, meanwhile, has flown scores of sorties and evacuated hundreds of stranded people as well as dropped food packets and other supplies in the affected areas.
Four advanced light helicopters (ALHs) and two MI-17 IV helicopters are operating in Gaurikund area, while 17 Mi-17-IV/V5 and 11 ALHs are operating in Jolly Grant, Shimla, Pithoragarh and Sarsawa. One MI-17 IV is heli-lifting barrels of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from Jolly Grant to Gauchar helipad. · Fuel has been positioned at Shimla and Rampur.
An official press release said the National Highway (NH)-94 from Rishikesh to Dharasu and NH-108 from Dharasu to Gangotri (upto 30 kms) have been opened for light vehicles.
Road connectivity between Rishikesh- Joshimath –Mana has been opened for traffic for light vehicles. Road from Tanakpur-Pithoragarh–Jauljibi–Tawaghat-Ghatiabgarh has been partially opened. The road from Tanakpur to Pithoragarh is open. On the Pithoragarh-Tawaghat route, the road up to km 80 is open. Major damages have occurred to road beyond Tawaghat. Two major bridges have been washed away. A major programme of restoration has been taken up, the sources said.
Uttarakhand government sources said movemnt of stranded people from Govindghat and Ghanghriya had started.
They said 500 people were evacuated from Garunchatti – Kedarnath today.
A helipad was constructed in Garunchatti today. Evacuation from Jangalchatti area will start today, they said.
The State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) has sanctioned Rs 103 crores for relief operations.
A team of Indian Navy divers has been deployed to assist in the rescue efforts, they said.
Food packets and medical teams have been sent to all the affected areas. Apart from that, District Magistrates have set up relief camps where food, shelter and other help is being provided, the sources said.
Free bus and train ticket are being issued to all stranded people for their respective destinations. Special counters have been established for this purpose in Dehradun and Haridwar. All the stranded tourists have been allowed free access to all state guest houses as well as tourist rest houses of the state government, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the Centre today released an amount of Rs. 145 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to the State Government of Uttarakhand yesterday in pursuance of announcement of an announcement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.
Dr Singh, who had made an aerial survey of the worst-hit areas on Wednesday, had told newspersons here aler that the Centre would provide an amount of Rs 1000 crore for disaster relief efforts in the state.
He had also said that, out of that amount, Rs 145 crore would be released immediately.
Dr Singh today also appealed to the people of the country to stand with their distressed fellow-countrymen in flood-ravaged Utarakhand and donate generously to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
"You are all aware that there has been extensive devastation due to cloud burst and floods in the State of Uttarakhand. A large number of persons have died and property worth crores of rupees has been damaged. The Union Government is extending all cooperation and assistance to the State Government in rescue and relief operations," Dr Singh, who had made an aerial survey of the affected areas on Wednesday, said in his appeal.
"At this moment, affected people need our help to tide over the calamity that has fallen upon them, to survive and to rebuild their lives. I request all citizens of India to stand with our distressed fellow countrymen, and actively participate in the national effort to support them at this difficult time," he said.
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