In one of their largest relief and rescue operations in the last several decades, the defence forces have deployed over 8,500 personnel and around 20 aircraft in floodravaged areas of Uttarakhand. The army has also launched a helpline for stranded pilgrims at Joshimath. The number: is 0138922225.
Led by Lt Gen Anil Chait, general officer commanding in chief (GOC-in-C), the Central Command on Thursday mobilised 2500 additional troops for rescue and relief efforts, as it simultaneously reached out to people in all regions, including Rishikesh, Uttarkashsi, Harsil, Rudraprayag, Kedarnath, Joshimath and Pithoragarh areas.
The army opened the road up to Uttarkashi after clearing 16 landslides. Also, the road was opened up to Sonprayag on the Kedarnath axis after setting up a bridge across the Vasuki Ganga between Mundkatiya and Sonprayag. As many as 2500 people were evacuated from Sonprayag, said a defence press communiqué.
The army operations in the 40,000 sq km area are led by Lt Gen Chait. Command and control team consisting of medical, communication, logistics, aviation and operations officers have carried out reconnaissance of the entire area. They are now operating from hubs at Rudraprayag and Joshimath.
Troops skilled in mountain rescue operations with specialised equipment have also been inducted to rescue people stranded in isolated areas in the Kedarnath and Badrinath regions. Medical teams have provided emergency aid to hundreds of people.
Six army teams are also currently deployed for relief operations in Pilibhit, Muzaffarnagar, Laksar and Amroha regions of Uttar Pradesh also. Two other teams have since returned from Saharanpur and Bijnor after evacuating 98 people and constructing an antiflood bund (embankment). As many as 114 people have been evacuated from Pilibhit so far.
On receiving information that 50 to 60 people were stranded on the Pindar Glacier and 12 on Sunder Dunga Glacier in Kumaon, an army team led by two officers and 77 soldiers reached Kapkot in Bageshwar district on Thursday morning. The army also established contact and rescued 11 members and 43 porters of a mountain expedition from Arva Tal on the Gangotri-Mana axis.
Expedition members have now been brought safely to Ghastoli and will be relocated to Badrinath after medical aid.
Communication nodes have been established at Gaucher, Harsil, Joshimath and Rudraprayag to enable people to contact their families.