Flood-hit Uttarakhand, Gujarat step up rescue operations

  • Prithviraj Singh & Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times, Dehradun/Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Jun 28, 2015 01:38 IST

Rescue workers on Saturday reached out to hundreds of people stranded in the interiors of Gujarat and authorities in Uttarakhand airlifted more pilgrims to safety as flooding eased in the two states hit hard by heavy monsoon rains.

In the western state, wildlife was also severely affected by Wednesday’s flashfloods with at least seven Asiatic lions perishing in the surging waters, officials said in Ahmedabad.

Over 80 people have been killed in the floods in Gujarat with most of the deaths reported from worst-hit Amreli district in Saurashtra.

In Uttarakhand, the government pressed more choppers into service to airlift nearly 8,500 people from the Hindu shrine of Badrinath and the Sikh pilgrimage Hemkund Sahib, located in Chamoli district.

Officials said that around 500 pilgrims were airlifted from in and around Badrinath on Saturday while efforts are on to bring in the other stranded people.

At least 12 private choppers were into service after gushing floods waters swept away a part of the National Highway 58 on Thursday and landslides blocked stretches of roads on the Char Dham yatra route.

“Airlifting (of pilgrims) will continue till vehicular traffic is restored,” said Santosh Badoni, joint secretary of the state disaster management department.

The government on Saturday said pilgrims will be allowed to proceed on the Char Dham yatra barring the trip to Badrinath.

Personnel of the state disaster response force were working round-the-clock to restore at least six road bridges washed away by flood waters.

The governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana also initiated efforts to bring back over 100 pilgrims stranded in the flood-hit Himalayan state.

In Gujarat, the army and air force continued rescue and relief operations in the Saurashtra region where thousands fled to safer areas after the rains left a trail of destruction -- scores of houses damaged and roads, railway tracks, bridges and electricity pylons destroyed.

Defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said on his Twitter account that the Indian Air Force “carried out 23 sorties by 6 MI-17 V5 helicopter and dropped 5.87 tonnes of food packets”.

The state government has already announced financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh each for families of people killed in the natural disaster.

(With agency inputs)

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