Rains are not what flood-devastated Uttarakhand wants to see at this point in time, but the signs are dark for Sunday and ominous thereafter, especially when at least 22,000 stranded people 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.
Authorities fear a second spell of rain - after the first on June 15 triggered flash floods and landslides - may hit rescue operations in the tough Himalayan terrain and turn the disaster into a catastrophe.
Fresh rain could add to the woes of the stranded people, taking down night temperatures even as they battle hunger.
The army and paramilitary rescuers picked up the already frenzied pace of their operations, which entered the fifth day. According to the state government's bulletin, 7,000 stranded people were rescued till evening.
Officially, the death toll remained at 556, but locals insisted it was closer to 1,200.
"… Time is limited. We have window till tomorrow because I have been told the weather might turn bad again. We are rushing our people there," army chief General Bikram Singh said on the sidelines of an event in Hyderabad.
He said the army had increased its footprint from 500 personnel to over 6,000 for the operation.
Amid the race against time, an eight-member team of experts was sent to Kedarnath temple to count the bodies lying in the area.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde admitted to a "lack of coordination between government agencies engaged in rescue operations". Shinde, who arrived here to review the rescue operations, said the disaster was not man-made.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi also visited the state and lauded the army and other rescue teams after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
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