At least 15 bodies have been recovered from the debris in villages that were flattened in a cloudburst in Uttarakhand, police said on Saturday.
Four bodies were pulled out in two villages of Pithoragarh district and three from Ghat tehsil of Chamoli district on Saturday. Eight bodies were recovered on Friday.
As many as 38 people are feared dead in the incident that occurred in six villages of the two districts, police said. About 200 cattle also reportedly died in the villages.
“Rescue and search operation is still on at the disaster-struck villages of Pithoragarh and Chamoli. An Almora-based 40-member unit of NDRF and 25-member SDRF team from Dharchula along with local police and disaster management department-trained response local teams are engaged in rescue operations,” said Shailesh Bagoli, secretary, state disaster management department.
The maximum damage was inflicted on Basted village, where at least 30 people are feared to be trapped in the debris. More than 60 houses were flattened due to the cloudburst after incessant rains in the region.
Officials said more than 100 mm rainfall was recorded in just two hours, leading to flooding of most of the rivers in the hill state.
“District administrations of Char Dham routes have been directed by the government to take due care of the pilgrims, wherever they are. So far there are no reports of stranded pilgrims,” Bagoli said.
“My prayers are with those injured. I hope normalcy returns to the rain-affected areas at the earliest,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi too expressed grief at the loss of life. “Through the day, grim news of the damage done by flash floods which has killed and grievously hurt many is of great despair and sorrow. Many people are missing is also news of serious disappointment,” she said on Friday.
Expressing solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones, Gandhi added: “The government of Uttarakhand has been asked to provide swift assistance for rescue and rehabilitation.”
Chief minister Harish Rawat has announced Rs 2 lakh each as ex-gratia to kin of the deceased.
Rescue workers used helicopters to shift the injured to hospitals but poor visibility affected operations, officials said. A senior official of the disaster management team said the rescue operations were also hampered due to inclement weather.
Several teams of the state disaster response force, paramilitary forces and army rescue teams were stranded on the way to the disaster-struck areas. All means of communication in the area have also collapsed.
“We have recorded 12 cm rain in 24 hours in Kapkot (Pithoragarh),” Vikram Singh, the state metrological department head, said on Friday. The met office also issued a warning for heavy rains in some parts of the state in the next 48 hours.
With inputs from agencies