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HindustanTimes Mon,28 Jul 2014

Rain in Uttarakhand plays havoc; thousands in the lurch

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Dehradun, June 23, 2013
First Published: 09:02 IST(23/6/2013) | Last Updated: 23:54 IST(24/6/2013)

With the met department predicting of more rain in Uttarakhand on Monday, the rescue of thousands stuck in the flood hit regions unfortunately could be delayed.

"Moderate rain showers predicted for Uttarakhand, there will be some opportunity for helicopter sorties," said MET dept director Anand Sharma.

The weather department also predicted moderate rains till June 28 in some parts of Uttarakhand.

Air rescue operations have been temporarily suspended in Uttarakhand due to bad weather.

Rescuers battled time and rain interruptions on Sunday to rescue 12,000 people in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand which braced itself for another spell of adverse weather beginning Monday, with more than 9,000 people still stranded.

So extensive is the damage that even a week after the devastating floods and landslides hit the state, there is still no clarity on the number of people missing or dead.

Late in the evening, state's disaster management and mitigation minister Yashpal Arya Uttarakhand denied reports that quoted him as saying that he feared the toll was nearly 5,000. “The enormity of disaster is so big that the toll could be more than the present figure. However, the picture is likely to be more clear in the coming days” he told HT.

The meteorological department has predicted moderate to heavy rain in the hills as well as foothills of the Himalayan state in the next 48 hours. Even moderate rain can hamper rescue as it may trigger more landslides.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel carry a child as they provide rescue assistance for stranded pilgrims after a section of road was washed away in Govind Ghat. AFP

"Rains on Tuesday are our main worry...if we get three to four hours of window tomorrow, we can do well," Air Marshal SB Deo, director general (air operations), told reporters in the Capital on Sunday. So far, more than 80,000 people have been evacuated to safety.

"Moderate to rather heavy rain and thundershowers are likely at many places with heavy rainfall at isolated places, especially in the foothills of Uttarakhand," said Anand Sharma, director, meteorological department.

In this handout photograph released by the ministry of defence, defence personnel assist rescued civilians from the Gangotri area after being flown to safety on board an Indian Air Force Mi-17 transport helicopter at Dharasu in Uttarakhand. AFP

Though skies turned grey, IAF choppers continued sorties to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport to bring in those evacuated. But the weather took the turn for worse in the afternoon and air operations had to be suspended but for a few hours only.

The Kedarnath valley has been completely evacuated, while more than 3,000 stranded people were moved to safer locations from Badrinath, Junglechatti and Harshil areas by the security forces, chief secretary Subhash Kumar told media.


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