Uttarakhand floods: Toll may cross 5,000

Floods Kedarnath shrine_0_0_0_0_0_0_0.jpg

New Delhi/Dehra Dun: The Uttarakhand government on Sunday expressed fear that at least 5,000 people may have lost their lives in the worst-ever deluge to have struck the hill state. “At least 5,000 people must have been killed in the deluge that inflicted heavy damage on vast tracts, especially in the Kedarnath valley,” state disaster management minister Yashpal Arya said at Dehra Dun’s Jolly Grant airport after an aerial survey of the affected areas.
On Saturday, the official death toll was first put at 680, while CM Vijay Bahuguna later said it was likely to be around 1,000.
The Kedarnath Valley, which was the epicentre of the Uttarakhand rain fury,
was cleared of all stranded pilgrims on Sunday as rescuers battled rains to evacuate more people. The Met department has warned of adverse weather in the region from Monday, and all agencies raced against time to try rescue the 19,000 still stranded in three areas, including Badrinath.
Flood survivors recall horror
Air operations had to be briefly suspended on Sunday due to bad weather.
The evacuation exercise was put on acceleration mode on Sunday while the disaster management authorities worked on a ‘Plan B’ — to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), prepare foot tracks, road routes and structures on cliffs that can sustain heavy rainfall given that heavy rain is again expected in the state on Monday.
FOCUS SHIFTS TO DROPPING FOOD PACKS
The government is aware air evacuation may not be possible if the weather turns hostile in the next few days, and rescue work will be limited to ground operations.
The government sources said emphasis is now also being laid on airdropping as many food packets and extending all possible help to survivors stuck at various locations to ensure no more lives are lost once the rainfall resumes on Monday .
Continuing its rescue operations with military precision using “cliff assault techniques“, skilled mountain rescue troops of the Army on Sunday also managed to evacuate 1,000 stranded pilgrims from the mountain folds around Jungle Chatti in the Kedar Valley both by foot and by air.
Hundreds of these fatigued and exhausted tourists were finally rescued almost seven days after the tragedy struck the Kedar Valley . In what was described as one of the most “dangerous“ zones, 460 pilgrims were rescued by troops on foot.
In addition, the Army personnel also launched two columns from Dharasu and Barkot and evacuated all stranded pilgrims from Yamunotri.
Next: Patience of kin is running thin

Patience of kin is running thin 
New Delhi/Dehra Dun: As the wait for news about their loved ones turns from days into a week, desperate relatives of people stranded in Uttarakhand urged the authorities on Sunday to try to shoot video footage of relief camps in the hope of locating those still missing.
Around 20,000 people still remain stranded in the areas affected by the massive floods and landslides and with most parts of Uttarakhand witnessing overcast skies on Sunday and the met department forecasting heavy rain in the next 48 hours, the fate of people stuck in higher reaches after last week's heavy rains seems frighteningly uncertain.
Carrying photographs, people are running from one hospital to other in desperation to get some news about their relatives and friends.
The rescue operations on Sunday were hampered by mild showers in places like Dehra dun and Joshimath.
“The government should shoot video footage of relief camps at Jungle Chatti, Gauri Kund and share it with the public,“ said Satya Prakash Mangal from Kota in Rajasthan.
He is in search of his sis ter and brother-in-law, who are untraceable since June 16.
Meanwhile, Kedarnath Valley, the temple town which was the epicentre of the floods and landslides, was also cleared of all stranded pilgrims in stepped up rescue operations which led to evacuation of 12,000 pilgrims. Rescue will take another 15 days Rescue teams will take another fortnight to evacuate flood victims as the roads leading to affected areas have been badly damaged, Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna has said. He also assured that there is no threat to life of stranded people. Kedarnath sanctum sanctorum is safe Nature's fury has dev astated the once serene region encom passing the majestic Kedarnath temple, which has been sub merged in about 10 feet of debris, but the sanctum sanctorum and the shrine bell are safe.

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