Four college boys who survived the massive floods in Kedarnath say they have been granted a second lifetime. But though they have been safe in their homes since five days now, they can still hear the roar of the waters that swept away everything before them.
“We have not been able to sleep soundly even after returning home. The horrific scenes of nature’s fury are still fresh in our minds and remind us of the battle for life that we have been lucky enough to win,” said graduation student, Akash Upadhyay, 22, who was one of the group members. There were times when he had lost all hope of surviving, he said.
The students had left Lucknow on June 12 and visited the Kedarnath shrine on June 17 when they were trapped in the floods. The group returned on June 22 after being stranded for five days. Having had several brushes with death, they recalled their nightmarish experiences. At one point, when the boys were trying to escape the fury of the floodwater, they had to traverse a precarious bridge broken at one end, before being airlifted by the Army.
“We spent three days-June 18, 19 and 20-at a helipad in Sonprayag. We were left there by the Army, who were busy distributing food packets,” Akash said.
The trio took shelter under a tin shed on the helipad. Though the Army helicopters distributed food packets, they contained raw ingredients that were of no use to the survivors. “They would give us rice, flour and maggi. But we had no means of cooking the food,” said, another group member Naveen. Luckily, local families came forward to lend a helping hand and offered them food till they left the tin shed on June 20.
From Sonprayag, the boys made their way to Sitapur on foot. Here they were told that there was an army camp in the vicinity, which they could not find. Finally they took a lift and reached Rishikesh and then Haridwar on the afternoon of June 21.
“We boarded the Allahabad express on Friday evening to reach Lucknow on Sunday morning. We travelled in the luggage coach of the train,” Akash said.