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7.40 PM: Survivors safe, rescue opearations to complete in 2-3 days, says Bahuguna
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today said the remaining about 10,000 stranded people in the flood-ravaged state are safe and that the rescue operations will be completed in two to three days.
“Worst is over now. All are safe in Badrinath, Harsil and Gangotri. Army, ITBP and NDRF are present there. It will take 2-3 days to finish the rescue work. Kedarnath valley is almost evacuated,” Bahuguna said, talking to PTI on phone.
“There are people stranded in Badrinath and Harsil but they are looked after. Army, ITBP and NDRF are present there. All the arrangements of food and water are made. As soon as the weather permits, they will be evacuated,” he said.
“Some states have offered to provide helicopters which we don’t need. We have enough helicopters. Some states have given cheques in CM relief fund and we want to thank them,” he said.
“Once the evacuation and rescue work is over, we will start distributing relief and disbursing compensation. This was the worst tragedy but I am sure we will overcome this with the help of state governments and Prime Minister,” he said.
“We are evacuating everyone, whether they are locals or piligrims. We are not discriminating,” he said.
“This tragedy has pushed us three years back in terms of development. The economy of Uttarakhand is based on tourism and we have lost infrastructure. We have to rebuild roads, electricity towers and all the basic infrastructure. It will take about 3 years to restore everything.” he said.
4.50 PM: Govt may declare national disaster, 10,000 still to be rescued, death toll may touch 5,000
The government may declare Uttarakhand disaster a national calamity today, while weather is still bothering rescue teams. Uttarakhand Met office predicts moderate rains in most parts of the state for the next three days and heavy rains thereafter.
Meanwhile Uttarakhand government is not going to allow any other state to make rescue efforts in flood-hit areas on its own. Any state wanting to send helicopter would need to come through Uttarakhand govt.
Uttarakhand government has rejected 24 choppers offered by Gujarat government for rescue work due to the lack of flying space.
Meanwhile rains have increased the risk of more lanslides as there have been reports of huge chunks of rocks moving at some places.
Death toll in the flood-disaster is likely to touch 5,000. There are 10,000 people still stranded in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, to be rescued. 2,000 are believed to be stuck in Harsil. Army rescuers are valiantly continuing in their rescue efforts on foot as at many places rain and at other places clouds are not allowing choppers to take off due to poor visibility.
3.40 PM: Urgent need of medicines, food, water as rescue operations face bad weather
Aid agency 'Save the Children' has appealed to the nation today saying that thousands of children and women who are stranded in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, need immediate medical attention and food before the weather deteriorates.
“Thousands of children and families have been left stranded in mountains by heavy monsoon rains that swept through the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand,” it said in a release.
With heavy rains expected soon, the relief efforts are entering a critical period, the aid agency warned.
“Thousands of children, pregnant women and old people are in desperate need of food and medical attention. Dozens of villages have been cut off by the flood waters, and homes, livestock and possessions have been swept away. They are running out of food, and we know children are already dying because they can’t reach medical help,” Save the Children’s India director of programmes Latha Caleb said.
Meanwhile Defence Minister AK Antony will today review the relief operations being carried out by the Army and the Air Force in flood-hit Uttarakhand and discuss the role of the defence services in the reconstruction work in the hill state.
The role of armed forces in reconstruction work in Uttarakhand will come up for discussion after demands from several quarters that they should be involved in it for the faster recovery of the state whose large parts have been devastated, Defence Ministry officials said here.
2.25 PM: Rahul Gandhi headed to Uttarakhand for aerial survery
While bad weather still plagues rescue operations in and around Kedarnath, finally Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who was out of the country, is on his way to visit flood hit Uttarakhand later today. He will do an aerial survey of the disaster-hit areas of the state.
Rahul faced a lot of flak from opposition parties for being absent during the whole Uttarakhand floods disaster.
There had been to a huge deal of social media commentary and mockery with the hashtag #WhereIsPappu trending on Twitter India last week. However party spokesman Raj Babbar had sought to downplay the comments last week.
“The in-charges of states look after the regions under their charge. The Congress president is herself monitoring the entire relief work in Uttarakhand, and no one should take pains to ask who is doing what,” Babbar said.
Rahul Gandhi with mother Sonia Gandhi, earlier flagged off a convoy of 24 trucks carrying relief material from Delhi to Uttarakhand.
12.25 PM: Bad weather continues to hamper rescue efforts while 7,000 stranded nead Badrinath, mass cremations to begin today
Bad weather continues to disrupt Uttarakhand rescue efforts severely while the government of Uttarkhand has said that a further 7,000 people are stranded near Badrinath.
On the other hand, priests are planning to cremate hundreds of flood victims on Monday. An official of the state disaster management team said, "We have decided to start mass cremation today. The priests of temples have been requested to participate in the final rites."
"We want to start the funerals today in Kedarnath provided the weather permits. All concerned authorities have been asked to make arrangements," a senior state government official said.
11 AM: Landslides between Rudraprayag and Guptakashi delay rescue operations
Rains are causing delay in helicopter rescue oerations in flood-hit state of Uttarakhand as choppers are unable to take off. Even though ground operations are continuing, the threat of more landslides and flooding is very real.
Two minor landslides between Rudraprayag and Guptakashi road have been reported, and bulldozers have been pressed into service to clear them. Another minor landslide has also been reported from the Rishikesh- Uttarkashi route.
Army has said that it hopes to rescue another 4,500 people from Badrinath which includes 2500 pilgrims, 2000 locals, labourers and temple employees in Badrinath.
10.15 AM June 24: Rains disrupt rescue efforts, death toll likely to touch 5,000
The death toll in Uttarakhand Kedarnath floods tragedy is likely to be close of 5,000 according to fresh estimates.
Right now Congress party's Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are flagging off trucks carrying relief supplies for flood-hit people in Uttarakhand.
Meanwhile heavy rain predictions for today are likely to disrupt rescue efforts for about 10,000 people still stranded in Uttarakhand. Already there is rain at many places in Uttarakhand so air rescue opearations have been halted.
There are reports of rains in Kedarnath, Chamoli, Joshimath, Gaurikund and Harsil while there are reports of landslides between Sonprayag and Phata hampering rescue operations. Joshimath road has been closed because of rain.
Met department predicts heavy rain in Uttarakhand by June 28.
Updated at 7.40 PM