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Uttarakhand live update: Army to attempt rescuing 2,000 stuck in Harsil Monday

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9.30 PM: Army to attempt rescuing 2,000 people from Harsil Monday

In a statement on the central government's website, the Jungle Chetti area has been fully cleared by joint efforts of Army, ITBP and Air Force and a total of 12,000 people were rescued and evacuated today. This was done with a total of 83 aircrafts, of which 45 are from IAF, 13 from Army and 25 from the State Government.

On Monday the Army will focus their rescue operations on Harsil, where about 2,000 people are still stuck, but are being taken care of by the Army.

The government has arranged for a train to run from Haridwar to Mumbai via Kota that will take the survivors for free. The State Government has also made arrangements for transporting pilgrims after reports emerged of taxi drivers overcharging pilgrims.

The US Ambassador to India, Nancy J Powell, said the US government would donate $150,000 through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to NGOs working in the most-affected areas

of Uttarakhand.

“The support will provide emergency relief to the families residing in remote areas of the state in coordination with the state authorities,” a US embassy press release said.

7.30 PM: CM Bahuguna says rescue efforts will take 2 more weeks

Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna has said that rescue teams will take another two weeks to rescue stranded flood victims as the roads leading to affected areas have been badly damaged.

He added,"Those who are stuck in certain areas in Uttarakhand, there is no threat to their lives." Bahuguna said, "It’s very tragic that so many people have died in this calamity. It will take a long time to rebuild Uttarakhand," while mentioning that Kedarnath has suffered the worst.

There will be no Kedarnath Yatra for at least next two years, he told an english news channel.

On the death toll, the chief minister said, "There are reports that more could be buried under the debris."

On the reports that his government had received an advance warning from the weather office, he said, "We were not warned about any cloud burst."

6.30 PM: Govt. numbers say 5,000 still stuck in Badrinath while heavy rain is predicted for Monday

According to the Uttarakhand government, there are 5000 people still stranded in Badrinath, while ITBP said that it had evacuated 2500 people from the area and expected to rescue another 6000 by this evening.

There is a sense of urgency in the rescue operations as heavy rain is expected to resume on Monday.

The Met department said that there will be heavy rain in the Uttarakhand foothills on Monday.

5 PM: 2,500 rescued from Badrinath, 6,000 more expected to be saved by evening

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has said that it has rescued more than 2,500 people Sunday from Badrinath in flood-hit Uttarakhanda and another 6,000 are expected to be rescued by evening.

Those rescued have been taken to Joshimath, said ITBP spokesman Deepak Kumar Pandey at a briefing.

“Nearly 500 people are stranded still in Jungle Chatti (area and) we are carrying out aerial surveillance to rescue them,” he said. Including Sunday’s evacuation, the ITBP has rescued close to 22,000 people from the hills of Uttarakhand, where hundreds have died in cloudburst and floods.

ITBP has also built a road from Badrinath to Hanuman Chatti to speed up the rescue operations.

“Earlier, we had to bring people from Badrinath till Hanuman Chatti by foot, but now the road has been built, we are bringing them by vehicles,” Pandey said.

4.20 PM: Air rescue resumes, all pilgrims evacuated from Jungle Chattri, Yamunotri

Once again air resue operations have resumed in Uttarakhand and army update says that everyone has been evacuated from Jungle Chattri and Yamunotri, but that search operations are still on. There arereports that pilgrims in Badrinath are demanding more helicopters to take them to safety.

All day rescue operations have been greatly hampered by worsening weather, and army personnel are racing against time as the Met department has predicted more heavy rain in the area starting Monday.

The army has also opened a bridge at Lambargha, allowing traffic along the Badrinath – Joshimath route.

The Tibetan government-in-exile has today announced to donate Rs 3 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the flood victims of Uttarakhand. The death toll in Uttarakhand flood tragedy has reached 680.

“We are deeply saddened by the devastating rain and flash-floods and offer prayers and sympathy for the families of those who have lost their lives and suffered injury or loss of property in this natural tragedy,” Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said in a statement released here today.

“As a gesture of solidarity with rescue efforts, the CTA will contribute Rs three lakh to the Chief Minister’s relief Fund,” it said.

3 PM: Air operations halted over bad weather again

Bad weather has descended on Uttarakhand again leading to suspension of air operations to rescue stranded people in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. The ground operations are still on.

“Most of the people who are stuck in the areas near Kedarnath shrine have been evacuated. The rescue operations on the ground are on, but the air sorties have been suspended for the time being due to adverse weather conditions,” Indo-Tibetan Border Police chief Ajay Chadha told reporters here.

“Low clouds are creating problems, but we are making attempts to fly to reach out to stranded people. As soon as weather conditions stabilise, flights will be resumed,” he said.

The ITBP team has reestablished the road route from Badrinath to Hanuman Chatti which is being used to carry on foot rescue operations. “The team has brought 2,500 people till Hanuman Chatti today. From there, they will have to walk 10 kilometres till Gobind Ghat. From Gobind Ghat they will be transported by vehicles to Joshimath,” he said.

Road connectivity has been restored in Pithoragad. “We were also facing some difficulties in carrying air operations due to air turbine fuel (ATF) shortage. The oil tankers have started reaching us. We are sharing our reserved oil stock with IAF,” he said.

12.30 PM: Weather clears, rescue operations resume on war footing

Weather has finally cleared to allow speedy rescue operations one again in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand. The efforts are on way on a war footing to evacuate 22,000 pilgrims still stranded in high altitude areas while the threat of light to moderate rains in the region starting from Monday, looms large.

At present more than 40 helicopters and 10,000 army and paramilitary personnel are involved in the rescue operations.

Many of the damaged roads have now repaired, so the evacuation process is likely to be faster while many stranded pilgrims are now being moved to safer places through road routes as well.

ITBP DIG Amit Prasad told reporters at Gauchar that foot tracks are being built in an area of about 50 kms near Badrinath to evacuate stranded pilgrims.

“This is being done to reduce our dependence on weather, which may hamper air rescue operations. These roads are being built in Mana outpost near the shrine. About 200 ITBP jawans are engaged in the exercise,” he said.

11.35 AM: Army rescuers moving in on foot as air operaions halt over bad weather

Since bad weather is making air rescue operations impossible, army is sending in rescue teams on foot to locate and evacuate stranded pilgrims while the road to Rudraprayag has been opened.

Army troops have been able to rebuild some crucial infrastructure to make evacuation of stranded people possible.

A makeshift bridge at Sonprayag helped over 1500 people cross to safety.

According to the met department further heavy showers are expected in the area.

10.55 AM: Weather continues to hamper air rescue operations

Rains continue to disrupt air operations while heavy rain has been reported from Kedarnath,and air operations have been suspended in Jungle Chatti. Civilian choppers are also unable to take off from Olly Airport yet.The visibility there is currently is between 50 to 500 metres.Required visibility is 1500 metres.

However, from Joshimath two Indian Army Cheetahs took off for Govindghat where an attempt is on to make a helibridge. According to the army, 2,000 people are waiting to be rescued from the Gangotti-Harsil axis. About 800 people are still stranded in areas of Gaurikund, Jungle Chatti and Bhairav Chatti.

23rd June 2013

9.45 AM: Rescue operations hit by bad weather, 123 bodies recovered from Kedarnath temple complex

There are still thousands of pilgrims stranded at various places in Uttarakhand while rescue operations have been hit today by bad weather conditions. 

Helicopter operations had to be suspended over Kedarnath, Badrinath, Dehradun and Rishikesh due rains off and on. Kedarnath and Rudraprayag have received heavy rainfall and there is threat of fresh landslide in Sonprayag.

Heavy rains are predicted in the state from June 25 onwards while over 22,000 pilgrims are still stranded, waiting to be rescued. 

123 bodies have been recovered from Kedarnath temple complex taking the death toll to 680 so far. 83 bodies have been identified and handed over to families.

8.00 PM: Second spell of rain may turn disaster into catastropy

The official death toll in the Uttarakhand flash floods tragedy remaines at 556, but locals say it was closer to 1,200. Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi has donated his one month's salary for the flood-hit people of the state. He is also going to give 10 per cent of his salary every month for relief work till normalcy is restored in the rain-ravaged state.



 

Meanwhile weather is threatening to hamper rescue operations as rains are predicted for Sunday and thereafter. Not what flood-devastated Uttarakhand wants to see at this point in time as at least 22,000 stranded people are still waiting to be rescued.

"There is a possibility of light to moderate rain from June 23. Further increase in rainfall is likely to occur from June 25 onwards up till June 27," Anand Sharma, head of the meteorological centre, Dehradun, said on Saturday.

People who are still stranded may suffer more in case of rains as night temperatures will go considerably down while they are already facing hunger.

6.15 PM: Rescue efforts to be intensified as more rains possible by Monday

Weather can take a turn towards worse as more rains are predicted for Monday, June 24 and so the government is going to intensify rescue efforts in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.

Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda did an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas. Haryana government has also provided its state plane and helicopter to assist in rescue and relief efforts in flood-hit Uttarakhand.



 

5.40 PM: Army evacuates 350 stranded pilgrims from near Kedarnath

Special forces of Indian Army have been able to evacuate 350 people out of the 1000 stranded near Kedarnath.

Uttarakhand flash floods have damaged about 400 kilometers of road in Char Dham. 8,500 army jawans are working towards locating and rescuing stranded survivors all over Uttarakhand.


4.50 PM: 18,000 moved to safer places, Modi criticised for going to Uttarakhand

Rescue efforts are continuing amidst threat of weather turning bad any time as 18,000 people stranded in Gangotri, Joshimath, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Pindari glacier among other places have been moved to safer places,  Lt Gen Anil Chait told reporters.



 

Meanwhile Gujarat CM Narendra Modi did an aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Joshimath, Badrinath and Kedarnath. His visit has been criticised by Home Minister Shinde and Congress party's Digvijay Singh. Shinde said his visit will hamper rescue efforts.


CRPF personnel have donated a day's salary totalling to about Rs 18 crores, for victims of Uttarakhand flood tragedy.


3.10 PM: Gaurikund rescue opeartion continues, heavy rains lash Dehradun

After reaching about 1000 stranded pilgrims at Gaurikund in morning, the army rescuers are valiantly continuing to bring them from Gaurikund to the airforce base in helicopters braving bad weather conditions.


Heavy rains have started however in Dehradun which is an indication that soon weather in Uttarakhand could turn worse and may hamper flood relief and rescue operations.


2.30 PM: Death toll likely to reach thousands, Modi reaches Joshimath

The death doll in Uttarakhand flood disaster is likely to reach thousands according to latest estimates. Meanwhile Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has reached Joshimath in Uttarakhand

1.30 PM: Rescuers brave bad weather to reach stranded pilgrims

Rescue efforts to evacuate stranded pilgrims are underway despite bad weather and help is pouring from various quarters.

To give a boost to rescue operations, IAF has committed three C-130 aircrafts. While Second C130J took off from Hindon with more fuel, third will take the medical aid.



 



 

Harayana government has announced an assistance of Rs 10 crore towards floods relief. Foot bridges are being put up on damaged roads.

11.30 AM: 73,000 rescued, 32,000 still stranded

Speaking at a press conference after reaching Uttarakhand today morning and holding a high level meeting, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shide refused to call the floods devastation a national disaster when questioned by reporters. He said that it will not improve anything so there is no need.


Shinde also admitted there was lack of proper co-ordination between different agencies working in the Uttarakhand flood rescue opearions and to rectify the situation a central head has been appointed who will be stationed there and co-ordinate with all the agencies.


Shinde admitted that there about 32,000 people still stranded there and need to be rescued. It was sad to hear that many dead bodies are waiting to be identified as they are in very bad condition and not recognisable. Shinde said that DNA of the dead bodies is being preserved to facilitate identification.


The Home Minister told reporters that about 73,000 people have been rescued so far.


He said that it has been instructed that no CM's helicopter should land there as it will distract and hamper the rescue efforts and only state CM should go to the impacted areas. He also hopes that by evening foot-bridges will be installed.


Shide was hopeful that in a day or two all people will be rescued.


11 A.M: Army reaches 1000 stranded at Gaurikund

Finally the Indian Army rescue team has been able to reach a group of about 1000 people stranded between the pilgrimage site of Gaurikund.


The people have been located between Gaurikund and Ram Bada and ropeways are being used to help evacuate the able bodied among the people.


But it is not going to be easy, given that there are no roads and the terrain is very tough to negotiate, and evacuation will take time.


People will have to trek down, as there is no helipad nearby, to a lower location so that they can be evacuated.


At 9 am army was seem preparing to begin sorties to rescue pilgrims but only if the weather clears up.


There is very high emphasis on the opening of roads to make the rescue opearions most effectove and fast. Crucial roads to Joshimath have been opened which raises hopes of more evacuations.

22nd June 2013

9 A.M: Death toll touches 600, clouds hamper rescue efforts

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said that nearly 600 people have been killed in the flood devastation and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is scheduled to reach the state today to take stock of the rescue and relief operations.


Facing widespread criticism Bahuguna was forced to admit that Uttarakhand did not meet the norms of national disaster management, but said his administration was never warned about a cloudburst that ravaged Kedarnath.


"(A total of) 556 bodies have been recovered and there are reports more could be buried under the debris," the Chief Minister said. "This kind of disaster has never happened in the Himalayan history."


He said it would "take a long time to rebuild Uttarakhand" and that no pilgrimage to Kedarnath would be possible for at least the next two years.


Chief Minister Bahuguna said about 30,000 people had been evacuated till now from the hills. "It is very tragic that so many people have died... It will take another 15 days to complete evacuation."

Updated at 9.30 PM, June 23