Smiles and tears couldn’t have blended in a better way than they did at Raja Bhoj Airport in the city on Tuesday afternoon.
As another batch of pilgrims/tourists from Madhya Pradesh returned to the state capital, survivors and their kin were overwhelmed with emotions.
Some of them shared their experiences in flood-hit Uttarakhand with HT.
Mukesh Srivastava was at the airport to receive his elder brother Vinod Kumar and three other relatives who belong to the state capital, on Tuesday.
Mukesh recounted the horrific experience of his relatives over the phone later as Vinod Kumar was feeling unwell.
He said that the hotel where his relatives were staying in Kedarnath collapsed and fell into the ravaging river with more than 150 people in it when the flood struck the area. His kin were fortunate to survive.
Around 300 vehicles which were parked in the area were also swept away by the flood,” said Mukesh.
They had to take shelter in a bungalow uphill where they stayed for three days surviving on the little food items available.
The owner of the bungalow asked them to evacuate it because of the inhospitable conditions. They struggled to find a way out amid the heavy rains.
They saw more than 100 dead bodies scattered in their path, said Mukesh.
After walking miles on empty stomach, they waited for two days for the rescue helicopters but were disappointed as the army was busy in rescuing the victims who suffered injuries.
They decided to find their own way and managed to reach Gaurikund, Mukesh added.
Sourabh, a resident of Bhopal, went to receive 24 of his relatives (mostly from Chanderi in Ashok Nagar) at the airport, on Tuesday. Sourabh, while quoting his relatives, said they were stranded at the roof of a temple at Gangotari along with 800 other people.
As a result of the heavy rainfall, the roof of the temple collapsed. They were rescued by the army and moved to Rishikesh.
“My relatives have told me that they had nothing to eat for three days when they had to trek for around 40 kms on the hills of Uttarakhand with the help of the army,” said Sourabh. During the journey, a middle-aged woman slipped and fell down the hills and even the army was unable to trace her body.
There was scarcity of food, a bottle of water cost Rs 90 and a ‘parantha’ cost Rs 250. It was impossible for them to reach home safely without the help of the army.
“We whole-heartedly thank the army and appreciate their work,” Sourabh said.
Kiran Rathore, a resident of Ujjain, is still terror struck and was unable to give proper information about her most horrifying journey. She was just happy about reaching Bhopal safely along with 80 other pilgrims from Ujjain.
They were sent to Ujjain in a bus from the airport.
Lata Jain, a resident of Pachmarhi, who went on Kedarnath Yatra in a group of seven and returned on June 25, said that she didn’t have to face much problem and her journey was rather spent smoothly.
“Though we were stranded in Badrinath for almost 10 days from June 15 onwards, we didn’t face much problem as we had enough food for ourselves and the travel agency that took us on the pilgrimage made all arrangements,” said Lata.
The seven members of Lata’s family have returned safely. The only problem they faced was non- availability of electricity and blockage of roads because of which they were stranded in Badrinath for many days.
“We were in queue for two days waiting for our turn to be rescued. We were rescued on June 23 and finally met our loved ones on June 25 after halting in Dehradun.” added Lata.